Published: March 07, 2014

Watch the conference video.

Ever wanted to know when your cup of joe is at the perfect drinkable temperature?

University of Tampa student Brett McQuaide devised an item to do just that. It’s called the Stir Stick, and it features thermochromic ink to measure when a beverage is at a perfect consumption temperature.

McQuaide won third place and $500 in the recent Spartan Idea Pitch Competition at the 2014 Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference (SEEC 2014), which was held at UT in late February.

Second place, and $1,000, went to a Mississippi State University student for his invention, CoPilot. CoPilot is a functioning prototype that provides an alert when a child’s car seat is in an unsafe environment.

First place, and $2,000, was awarded to a University of South Florida–St. Petersburg student who created a child safety device termed “Never Wander.” This is a vibrating wristband that alerts you when a child has moved more than 10 feet from a guardian’s side.

With just 90 seconds to sell their idea, approximately 30 students from across the nation “pitched” to a board of serial entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and entrepreneurial educators. This competitive pitch competition was a highlight of the conference.

Known as the premier regional student entrepreneurship conference in the nation, SEEC 2014 allowed students to engage in networking opportunities with students and business professionals from across the nation. The conference featured more than 255 attendees from more than 14 states. Universities represented included Northern Kentucky University, Florida State University, Mississippi State University, University of Florida, University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Morehouse College, Sam Houston State University, Susquehanna University, University of Central Florida, University of South Florida, University of South Florida–St. Petersburg, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Hillsborough County Community College, St. Pete College and The University of Tampa.

Keynote speakers included Ray Ingersoll of the Ingersoll Group, Shaherose Charania of Women 2.0, and Benson Riseman, founder of Green Box. Ingersoll and Riseman, both UT alumni, came back to a strong ecosystem for entrepreneurship.

“We were pleased to welcome back two incredibly successful UT alumni. They were able to provide wisdom and a sense of empowerment for young entrepreneurs,” said James Zebrowski, president of UT Entrepreneurs. “It takes a special moment or event in a young person’s life to decide, ‘I’m going to do it. I’m going to be an entrepreneur.’ At SEEC, that is exactly what we are creating.”

SEEC 2014 was open to all academic majors, especially those students who are emerging entrepreneurs and who already have businesses up and running. Community business partners who are interested in supporting the development of entrepreneurial students also attended the conference.

“SEEC is a great event for anyone looking to enhance their entrepreneurial mindset,” said Jesse Henry, president of Florida State University’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization. “The connections, as well as the advice you receive from successful business owners are invaluable. You cannot put a price on this experience as many of these connections will last throughout my lifetime.”

SEEC 2014 sponsors included Hillsborough County, the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization, Agile Thought and Donna Jones.

For more information regarding SEEC, visit the website