Shades of Steve Harvey at the 2015 Miss Universe pageant and the 2017 Oscars envelope mishap were called into memory Thursday night as the 2018 edition of Trinity University’s Stumberg Venture Plan Competition wrapped up in confusing fashion.
The $25,000 grand prize was supposed to be awarded to Quick Sip Coffee, a cold brew bottling company, but organizers mistakenly wrote a ceremonial check out to Patch, the manufacturer of a smart pill bottle that tracks whether participants of clinical trials are taking their medication as prescribed using low-energy Bluetooth technology and a smartphone app.
The mistake was soon corrected, and Quick Sip Coffee ultimately claimed its award on the stage inside Trinity University’s Center for the Sciences and Innovation. But before the night was over, an anonymous donor chipped in $10,000 for the Patch team.
Luis Martinez, who runs the annual Shark Tank-style contest, took the blame for the mishap but said both entrepreneurial groups impressed the judges.
“[The judges] felt at this particular moment that this particular award would really accelerate [Quick Sip] much more quickly than perhaps a company that would require a little bit more money,” Martinez said.
“They [also] loved Patch,” he added. “They loved the market, loved the team as well. They recognized Patch was a much longer play. They’re very excited about the great work and offers they’ll be” able to garner from investors.
In the fourth year of the competition, Martinez said students came in with higher-quality ideas and were at a more advanced stage prior to their pitches. The student-entrepreneurs have also benefited from more support from mentors in the local business community, he said.
Jacob Hurrell-Zitelman, who leads the Quick Sip team, said the $25,000 will help the company increase its manufacturing capacity, which currently stands at 20 gallons of cold-brew coffee a day .
“It’s really rewarding for us for how much we’ve worked. We’ve hustled every single dollar of this company,” Hurrell-Zitelman said. “Had we not won tonight, we would have continued to do it for the rest of the company’s life. I think this investment is going to help this company significantly, and I’m very excited about it.”
Quick Sip bottles and now sells kegs of cold-brew coffee. Patrons of Commonwealth Coffee might recognize their packaging, as the local coffeeshop is one of Quick Sip’s largest clients.
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Quick Sip brews and bottles out of its South San Antonio facility. The company plans to apply the Stumberg money to new equipment, Hurrell-Zitelman said.
The four groups were narrowed down from 10 in the spring, the first of two competition rounds. Five teams, including Patch and Quick Sip, received $5,000 to further develop their products.
The other two finalists included Mona, an augmented reality app that allows users to attach virtual objects to themselves with real-world objects, and InterSourcing, which provides U.S. businesses access to international production.
Complete Chess, a chess education service for children and adults, was among the finalists chosen in the first round but was not in contention Thursday.
In its three previous years, the competition has seen 15 finalists, and 11 of those companies are still in business, Martinez said.
He said the liberal arts and sciences institution will continue to build its entrepreneurship programs. One day, he hopes to see all students become entrepreneurs, he said.