Ann Blackford


College: Communication & Information

Four UK Teams Take Home More Than $35,000 at Idea State U

Published: Apr 17, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 17, 2013) — All four University of Kentucky student entrepreneur teams placed in the top two in their respective categories and won a total $35,000 in prize money at Idea State U this past weekend.


Matt Dieruf won the Governor’s Innovation Award, judged to best demonstrate innovative thinking and possess a “wow” factor, and second place in the undergraduate business plan category. Matt’s venture is Latta Fasteners, which will produce a new type of screw specifically for industries that require both routine maintenance and coatings to protect screws during operation.


“These competitions are extremely important because they encourage innovation and entrepreneurial experiences, and compel us to expand our knowledge and capability in ways beyond what we learn in a classroom,” said Dieruf, who will graduate next month with a degree in electrical engineering.


Grant Weherley, an economics major who graduated in December, won first place in undergraduate business concept for Control My ADHD. This is a subscription-based online resource including video lessons for adults living with ADHD.


“Working on Control My ADHD has been a hands-on, real-world crash course in all aspects of entrepreneurship,” Weherley said. “It has been invaluable in terms of connecting with others within the entrepreneurial space, which has created a snowball effect of business opportunities. It has been very intense but so much fun!”


The EARlyTAG team including MBA students Kaitlyn Foree, Jeffrey Billion, Nathan Miles, William Templeton, and agricultural economics junior Alex Hart, were second in graduate business concept to dramatically reduce costs related to livestock illness with new symptom-detection technology.


“This was not only valuable business experience, but also a great networking opportunity, said Kaitlyn Foree, who served as EARlyTAG president and CEO.We had the chance to work closely with Dr. Jacqueline Smith and Dr. Eric Vanzant, the UK researchers behind the technology. We also gained contacts in the Lexington community — Venture Club members, the Bluegrass Angels, and various competition judges who will be an invaluable resource in our future business careers.”


MBA students Jordan Denny, Jarrod Willis, Lee Goatley, and Jordan Laycock placed second for their graduate business plan for TerraCast Technologies. TCT proposes to reclaim mountaintop sites by growing switchgrass for biofuel production. UK Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering researchers Sue Nokes and Mike Montross worked with the students on the technology.


“Though it was very rewarding to represent UK and learn from our advisors, researchers and other successful entrepreneurs and business people, the best part of our experience was the bond created within our team,” said TCT CEO Jarrod Willis. “We learned that as a team we could accomplish things we had never imagined.” The TCT team also won the inaugural Alltech Innovation Competition the end of January.


The University of Kentucky tied with the University of Louisville for the best team advisors award.


“The Idea State U business plan competition held this past weekend demonstrates the tremendous amount of entrepreneurial talent we have all across Kentucky,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “Many of the innovation-based student ventures that were showcased will go on to form real companies that contribute real jobs to help our economy grow.”


Idea State U is sponsored by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.


All four UK teams were recent winners of the UK Venture Challenge competition held in February. Venture Challenge is organized by iNET, the Innovation Network for Entrepreneurial Thinking and includes the Entrepreneur in Residence, along with the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship, the Gatton College of Business and Economics, the College of Engineering, and other iNET partners. At the University of Kentucky, iNET is hosted by the College of Communication and Information.




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