Student business competition announces finalists, Demo Day presentations

March 25, 2014  

Anvil competition

Boiler Mini-Accelerator Competition participants and mentors work in teams to refine and strategize their startup plans. More than 40 Purdue University student teams participated in the competition. The three finalists will present during the April 25 Demo Day at the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. (Photo provided by the Anvil)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Three Purdue University student-based startups have advanced to the final round of the Boiler Mini-Accelerator Competition or "Boiler," where they will compete for nearly $10,000 in funding.

The Boiler, a student-run business competition, is geared for aspiring entrepreneurs who seek funds to support their startup idea and the opportunity to receive professional advice and business development strategies from entrepreneurial experts and from the Purdue Foundry, a startup resource center in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.

"The energy surrounding this competition is fantastic," said Mike Asem, organizer of the competition and co-founder of the Anvil, a student-run business incubator. "We started out with nearly 40 student entrepreneur applicants and had the very difficult task of choosing the finalists because of the overall outstanding quality of the submissions."

The competition culminates on Demo Day, set for April 25, in the Burton D. Morgan Center, where the three finalists will present their startups to investors, members of the startup community and a panel of judges.

"The Boiler competition is unique because it runs over an eight-week timeframe, and that is important because it gives the student finalists several weeks of invaluable advice and mentoring from experts," Asem said. "Throughout the competition, participating students have access to the Launchbox program and various workshops to help them further advance their startup ideas.

"Another important unique aspect of our competition is the fact that our major focus is on helping the teams get actual traction and customer engagement with their businesses, rather than writing a business plan."

The Launchbox is a Purdue Foundry program to help entrepreneurs develop startups.

Winners of the Boiler will receive $5,000, $3,000 and $1,500 for first, second and third places, respectively, with free and discounted professional services offered to teams that place first and second. These funding awards are in addition to $1,500 each of the teams received as finalists to use as seed money and further develop their startups. Funds received through the competition are awarded on a no-equity basis. 

The three teams with a description of their company's product that are advancing to Demo Day are:

* FundSponge – a website that helps nonprofits, student organizations and other groups raise money simply through the online purchases that their members and supporters already make.

* Mimir - an automated cloud-based classroom for computing courses.

* Vendo - an instagram for buying and selling merchandise on campus.

The fourth- and fifth-place teams are WordScan, which is commercializing an interactive dictionary app that allows young learners to explore the world around them; and Toucan, which is commercializing an app that lets users pay from their smart phones at a restaurant.

"We're grateful for the amount of help we have received from sponsors," Asem said. "We would not be able to hold the Boiler competition without their guidance and monetary support."

The program is supported by co-hosts Angie's List, a national company headquartered in Indianapolis that helps more than 2 million consumers in more than 253 cities across the United States have happy transactions with local service providers in 720 categories of service, ranging from home improvement to health care; Purdue Foundry; and the Anvil.

"It used to be a secret that Indiana has such a great wealth of young entrepreneurs, but competitions like this are getting the word out fast. It's no surprise to us that it was difficult to whittle the list of competitors down," said Angie's List founder Angie Hicks. "We're pleased to help sponsor the competition and encourage all participants to keep at it - starting a business is hard but can be incredibly rewarding."     

Other sponsors are KA+A, Purdue Research Foundation, DelMar Software Development LLC, Gutwein Law, Elevate Ventures, Passageways Inc. and the City of West Lafayette.

Part of the eight-week competition included $500 seed money for each of the five selected finalists chosen March 13 and $1,000 in funds for each of the three finalists chosen March 24.

"We know what it is like to build a startup, and we wanted to make sure all the finalists had the resources they needed at key points throughout the contest," said Asem, a Purdue liberal arts undergraduate. "Providing them with support during these milestone times in the competition is important in helping them attain their own startup goals."           

Writer: Andrew Gunter, (765) 588-3341,

Contact: Cynthia Sequin, (765) 588-3340,

Source:  Mike Asem, 

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