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The Projected Talent team took home the top prize.
The Projected Talent team took home the top prize.

Innovation was on full display Thursday night as leaders from the technology community gathered for the 17th annual University of Washington Business Plan Competition. What started months ago with nearly 100 business plans from 10 colleges and universities, ended with one top-prize winner walking away with a big $25,000 check.

That prize went to Projected Talent, a startup that’s attempting to match undergrads with short, meaningful tasks at companies.

Dan Price of Gravity Payments
Dan Price of Gravity Payments

“We are going to revolutionize the way students are hired,” said CEO Samir Diwan, who is earning his MBA from the University of Washington. “The reason you should believe in us is because we are solving a huge problem in a really big market.”

In some ways, Projected Talent overlaps with Seattle-based Koru, a Maveron and Andreessen Horowitz-backed startup that raised $4.35 million last December. Led by Onvia co-founder and former Microsoft exec Kristen Hamilton, its mission is to help college grads find meaningful work, recently inking alliances with 13 colleges.

But it’s not all about the grand prize winner at the business plan competition, as evidenced by keynote speaker and Gravity Payments founder Dan Price.

Price actually finished in second place in the competition in 2007, before going on to build a company that has pulled in $290 million in revenue since inception.

In a raw talk about what it took to build the bootstrapped payment processing company — including scary times in 2008 when its two largest customers teetered in bankruptcy — Price detailed “the roll up your sleeves” attitude needed in startups. More on his talk later.

For now, here are the winners of last night’s competition.

$25,000 Grand Prize: Projected Talent (University of Washington)

Projected Talent is an online marketplace that connects skilled undergrads to businesses on short, meaningful, paid projects. This allows students to gain valuable, relevant work experience and businesses to find and audition the best talent while accomplishing important tasks. By lowering the time, space, and financial commitment, more companies than ever are now able to connect with students.

Team: Samir Diwan, MBA, Foster School of Business; Bilal Aijazi, MS, UW Computer Science & Engineering; Julie Maas, MBA, Foster School of Business; Max Weissman, MBA, Foster School of Business; Jeff Shulman, nonstudent

$10,000 Second Place Prize: Flu Finder (University of Washington)

flufinder1Current flu diagnostic tests are unable to achieve effective early diagnosis for most flu-infected individuals. Flu Finder has created a flu test that is accurate, inexpensive, and can be administered by anyone, anywhere, with results in less than 20 minutes.

Team: Carly Holstein, PhD, UW Bioengineering; Gina Fridley, PhD, UW Bioengineering; Alyssa Hochman, MBA, Foster School of Business; Jonny Holz, MBA, Foster School of Business; Joel Loveday, MBA, Foster School of Business

$7,520.14 Finalist Prize: OlyKraut (Bainbridge Graduate Institute)

OlyKraut is making organic sauerkraut
OlyKraut is making organic sauerkraut

OlyKraut combines local produce, the magic of fermentation, and delicious original recipes to create sauerkraut that’s more than a condiment–it’s a health tonic, a kick in the tastebuds, and an investment in the local food system.

Team: Sash Sunday, MBA, Bainbridge Graduate Institute; Michelle Anderson, MBA, Bainbridge Graduate Institute; Domonique Juleon, MBA, Bainbridge Graduate Institute; Dorothy Mitchell, MBA, Bainbridge Graduate Institute

$5,000 Finalist Prize: Korvata (University of Washington)

Korvata Inc. creates cutting edge alternative chemistry products that enable companies to mitigate their environmental impact. Korvata, a Delaware Corporation, received the top award at the 2014 UW Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC). Its patent-pending technology enables customers in the food & beverage and CPG industries to significantly reduce their carbon footprints.

Team: Chris Metcalfe, MBA, Foster School of Business; Soleil Kelley, MBA, Foster School of Business; Brendan Trickey, MBA, Foster School of Business; Devapratim Sarma, MBA, Foster School of Business; Taylor Brugh, MBA, Foster School of Business.

$2,500 Best Technology Idea: Aurora Plasmonics (University of Washington)

Blood clots are a major problem during dialysis—an average of 400,000 de-clotting procedures take place each year in the U.S. Aurora Plasmonics has developed cost-effective, non-invasive therapeutic and diagnostic technologies for de-clotting procedures. These technologies offer reduced procedure times and costs, improved outcomes, and increased patient comfort.

$2,500 Best Service/Retail Idea: FastBar (UW Bothell)

Everyone hates long bar lines, and payment processing at pop-up bars—temporary bars for special events that don’t have built-in point of sale systems —can mean especially long wait times. FastBar provides a simple, high-speed payment solution for pop-up bars that uses RFID wrist bands.

$2,500 Best Sustainable Advantage Idea: Mobile Foam (Washington State University)

Mobile Foam pitches at the UW business plan competition
Mobile Foam pitches at the UW business plan competition

1.6 billion people worldwide live in substandard housing. Humanitarian organizations are trying to address this by building more homes, but construction is often low-quality and lacks energy efficiency. Mobile Foam empowers humanitarian organizations to build higher quality homes with their building kit: floor-plans, consulting, and the necessary chemicals and portable molds to produce polyurethane blocks on-site.

$2,500 Best Innovation Idea: Flu Finder (University of Washington)

Current flu diagnostic tests are unable to achieve effective early diagnosis for most flu-infected individuals. Flu Finder has created a flu test that is accurate, inexpensive, and can be administered by anyone, anywhere, with results in less than 20 minutes.

$2,500 Best Consumer Product Idea: Trestle (University of Washington)

Trestle converts your smartphone into a touchscreen interface for your Wi-Fi router. With Trestle, complicated configuration tasks are automated making your home network a breeze to set up, and your internet security and speed are continuously optimized. It’s so easy that even your grandma can do it.

$2,500 Best Cleantech Idea: IonoMetal Technologies (University of Washington)

Gold-plated surfaces used in computer chip testing wear down with repeated use and must be replaced. Each test board costs upwards of $40,000, and there is currently no available cost efficient repair option that satisfies industry standards. IonoMetal Technologies has developed technology that lowers the costs of manufacturing new gold-plated test boards by 10x.

$2,500 Best Marketplace Idea: Stash (University of Washington)

Stash has created an affortable storage platform by connecting people who need storage to those who
have extra space around their house or garage.

$5,000 AARP Prize for low-income senior service: FDCARES (University of Washington)

Fire departments use up valuable time and money dispatching Emergency Medical Service in response to non-urgent 911 calls—up to 40% of fire department medical responses are for non-emergencies. FDCARES saves fire departments millions of dollars and improves their 911 response efficiency by integrating a Non-Emergency Medical Service division into their operations.

Previously on GeekWireCan these startups save the world? Cooking-oil kiosks and more innovations from UW Enviro Challenge

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