Quick Sip, a specialty cold brew coffee company, left the Stumberg Competition with the $25,000 grand prize, but the evening was not without some rough patches.
PATCH, a pill bottle that tracks whether patients take their medication and sends the information to clinical trial specialists, was incorrectly named the overall winner after accepting their fan favorite award.
The fourth annual Louis H. Stumberg Venture Plan Competition began with a reception and networking opportunity followed by opening statements from Martinez. The competition is an opportunity for student-led companies to compete for $5,000 in the seed round to grow their companies, returning after the summer to compete for the grand prize of $25,000.
“It’s an exciting night. We’ve had an opportunity for these teams to share the hard work they’ve been doing for the last nine months. Trinity is devoted to having students follow their passions for real,” Martinez said. “In entrepreneurship, that means that you get to start something from nothing. You get to start a nonprofit or for-profit company while you’re a student, you get to learn how to build it, you get to build it, and then you get to work on it.”
The founders of the four companies presented their pitches to five judges. Each company gave a brief explanation of what they do, how they’ve grown, and what they would do with the $25,000 award. Afterward, the judges left to deliberate.
Then, fan-favorite PATCH was announced as the winner of the grand prize instead of Quick Sip, the true winner.
“So it was miscommunicated. We wrote down the fan favorite on the big check, so when we did the reveal, the judges looked at me, I looked at the judges, and I took the check and realized that it was the wrong team that was written on the check. I take full responsibility,” said Luis Martinez, director of the Department of Entrepreneurship.
The mix-up was quickly fixed.
After the grand prize check was taken from sophomores Gavin Buchanan and Andrew Aertker, founders of PATCH, and handed over to junior Jacob Hurrell-Zitelman of Quick Sip, PATCH was given an anonymous donation of $10,000 to continue with their business.
“A group of anonymous donors came together and said, ‘We’d like to donate $10,000 for PATCH.’ It took a long time for the judges to make a determination. They chose Quick Sip as first and PATCH second,” Martinez said.
The two other founders — Sean Pan, senior and founder of InterSourcing, a sourcing company and international supply chain consultant, and Andrea Acevedo, 2018 graduate and founder of MONA, an augmented reality-focused marketing agency — left the night without further investment.
Cat Dizon, Stumberg judge and executive director of the Alamo Angels, a San Antonio-based firm that focuses on promoting small businesses and startups, chose Quick Sip due to the success it has had so far and Hurrell-Zitelman’s leadership in the company.
“I think it’s important to understand the founder’s story — what he’s done with the business in the short amount of time — and we think he’s doing all the right steps to continue to make this company grow,” Dizon said.
Buchanan spoke about their experience after the mistake of being accidentally announced the winner.
“Honestly, [we’re] a little disappointed but mostly okay with it. We faced some difficult competition. We didn’t at any point think that we had a clear leg up on anyone. It just happened to be a kind of unfortunate bait and switch kind of thing. We actually just got told by Dr. Martinez that we will be receiving a check of $10,000, some sort of follow up by anonymous donors, so that’s exciting to hear,” Buchanan said.
Aerkter agreed, emphasizing his eagerness for the company’s future.
“Congratulations to Quick Sip, first of all. I think he can go far with the $25,000. It’s a bummer how it happened, but for us it’s alright. We’re pretty excited about moving forward,” Aertker said.
When he thought PATCH had won, Hurrell-Zitelman was disappointed, but he was proud of the PATCH co-founders, who both had lived in the Entrepreneurship Hall while Hurrell-Zitelman was the resident assistant (RA).
“When PATCH was announced, I was very, very happy because I was actually the RA for entrepreneurship hall when [Aerkter] and [Buchanan] came through. It was really rewarding to see somebody that I’d mentored before do that well. So I was upset of course, but I wasn’t terribly upset because I was part of something that ended up being great,” Hurrell-Zitelman said. “The way the tide turned was kind of crazy, but I’m so glad that they got some investment as well because they definitely deserve it for how much they’ve been growing, and I think they’re going to do awesome things with it.”
Now that Hurrell-Zitelman has this $25,000 investment, he plans to move forward with his company immediately.
“[I feel] relieved, surprised, stressed, excited, everything. I feel everything right now. Obviously, we’re extremely honored with the investment we received and how we’re going to grow with that,” Hurrell-Zitelman said. “Literally tomorrow we’ll be able to create the path to the vision we’re going to. Our first steps are investing in our facility and the brew capacity we can do right now; that way we can serve our customers good coffee.”