Pictured from left to right: David Snow, Erica Newsome, Matthew Thacker, Justin Prater, Wesley Barnett, and Molly Frank.
Over the weekend Rhizofeed participated in the Baylor University New Venture Competition. This is an event for graduate programs at the highest level which included PhD candidates and graduates of PhD programs. In total, 146 teams from 83 universities applied to this competition. Baylor accepted the best twelve business plans.
The event started Friday with a dinner and the elevator pitch competition. One member from each team was given up to 90 seconds to pitch their company to everyone at the dinner, which consisted of approximately 200 people. The audience voted via text message for the best pitches. Erica Newsome gave the first pitch. Rhizofeed advanced as one of the four finalists. Next, a second member of the team would deliver a different elevator pitch to the audience. Molly Frank gave the second pitch. Rhizofeed won first place and $1,000.
The audience voted via text message for the best pitches. Erica Newsome gave the first pitch. Rhizofeed advanced as one of the four finalists. Next, a second member of the team would deliver a different elevator pitch to the audience. Molly Frank gave the second pitch. Rhizofeed won first place and $1,000.
“Oftentimes, I find myself sitting in the audience listening to other pitches and wondering how our team from small-town Pikeville, KY could ever compete at the same level as teams from Purdue, Rice, UCLA, and numerous other "big-name" schools. Yet, to my amazement, Rhizofeed never fails to rise to the level of the competition. We have proven that small schools such as the University of Pikeville are capable of not only competing with but defeating these larger schools,” said Molly Frank
On Saturday, the full business plan presentations occurred. Twelve teams were split into two tracks: technology and non-technology. Rhizofeed was in the non-technology track which was the more competitive grouping of teams. Each team would present before a panel of ten judges. At lunch the finalists were announced. Three came from the non-technology track and two from the technology track. Rhizofeed was one of the finalist teams.
For the finalist presentations, the teams presented to a new panel of ten judges in an auditorium consisting of the other teams, investors, and members of the community. All the grand prize winners came from the non-technology track. Rhizofeed won 2nd place and $25,000.
“It was an honor just to be accepted into this competition. To perform so well winning a first and second place was amazing. This team of students continues to work to improve upon their business plan and I am very proud of them. I hope their success paves the way to build a full entrepreneurship program at the University of Pikeville,” said David Snow, D.M., director of the Kentucky Innovation Network Pikeville office, director of business competitions, associate professor of business and faculty adviser for the team.
UPIKE students Wesley Barnett of Cynthiana, Molly Frank of Greensburg, Erica Newsome, Matthew Thacker and Justin Prater of Pikeville, make up team Rhizofeed. Frank and Newsome are biology majors and Barnett is a biology and chemistry major. Thacker and Prater are MBA students. The team has developed an organic feed additive for the poultry industry made from bloodroot grown in Eastern Kentucky. Their all-natural, patented product was created to replace antibiotic use in the poultry industry and enable farmers to raise healthier, larger chickens while also reducing their feed costs.