Published: April 23, 2013

A team of undergraduate students from The University of Tampa won a $2,500 special Founders Award in a business plan competition to design, develop, train, implement and maintain sustainable agricultural units called “pods” for food insecure communities in the United States and around the world.

The UT team competed against students from 27 other universities from around the world last weekend in the third annual Richards Barrentine Values and Ventures™ Business Plan Competition at the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University.

The UT team consisted of seniors and entrepreneurship majors Christopher Laganas, Jasmine Rustogi and David Wistocki, all of whom work in the UT Entrepreneurship Center. The team’s advisors include UT professors Rebecca White and David Bechtold, UT alumni Edouard Carrie and Adrien Edwards, as well as Phil Reasons, aquaponics specialist and executive director of Morning Star Fishermen.

The entrepreneurship major at UT is one of the largest on campus and provides students with skills that are critical for anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur or think like one.

The competition brought college entrepreneurs from around the world to TCU to showcase their ideas for for-profit businesses that make money while making life better. A team from the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, Scotland) also won a Founders Award for proposing a recycling company that gathers coffee grounds from the coffee/hospitality industry to produce a 100 percent organic fertilizer.

Thirty judges participated in the two-day competition. Judging the final competition were Elliott Hill, president of Nike North America; Stacy Steimel, managing director and head of Latin American equities for PineBridge Investments; Paul Spiegelman, chief culture officer for Stericycle; Jan Norton, coach, author, speaker and angel investor; and Chris Kraft, president, CEO and co-founder of Splash Media.

“Judging this entrepreneurship competition is humbling and inspiring,” Hill said. “These students are very impressive, poised and competent.”

A team from George Washington University (Washington, D.C.), which proposed an online tool for small organizations that rewards donors with coupons and discounts, won first place in the competition and $15,000.

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