University Letter

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‘GeoTinkers’ win $10,000 grand prize at Middleton Business Plan Competition

Ten teams of UND students competed for a $10,000 grand prize in the Middleton Business Plan Competition held April 21-22, hosted by the University’s Nistler College of Business & Public Administration.

Open to all students, the competition is a comprehensive program of workshops and collaborations with UND faculty and partners such as the North Dakota Small Business Development Center to develop business plans for a panel of 12 local judges.

Of four finalist teams advancing to the final round, the Sandra Braathen Memorial Business Plan Grand Prize went to “GeoTinkers,” by Moones Alamooti, Shane Namie and Shane Eiring, all students in the UND College of Engineering & Mines.

The team developed a product called the Razorback P.I.G., or pipeline intervention gadget, meant to optimize the pipeline cleaning process while reducing inspection time and costs. The Razorback’s novel design uses a turbine drive to move against the fluid flow of pipelines and rotate its cleaning tools for thorough cleaning.

In second place was “Tellegacy,” pitched by Jeremy Holloway, an MBA student. Third place went to “Arctic Acai,” which was developed by entrepreneurship students Luke Lesuk Felton and Charlie Andrys. Second and third place were awarded $8,000 and $6,000, respectively.

The grand prize was named in honor of Sandra Braathen, Langemo Faculty Fellow and professor in the Middleton School of Entrepreneurship & Management, who passed away in December 2022. She worked on the competition extensively in recent years, and the grand prize will continue honoring her memory, according to the Nistler College.

Judges for the final round included Amy Henley, dean of the Nistler College; Tom Shorma, retired CEO/president of WCCO Belting; and Barry Wilfart, CEO/president of the Grand Forks/East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce.

“We want to convey to everyone at the University of North Dakota that programs such as these are confidence-builders,” said Shane Namie, one of the grand prize-winners. “Through the experience, I felt that entrepreneurship is not just about turning ideas into reality but also empowering others to do the same.”

Teammate Moones Alamooti said the competition challenged the teams to push the boundaries of their collective creativity and strategic thinking.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to have participated and for the invaluable lessons we learned along the way,” Alamooti said. “The competition has not only helped us refine our business plan but also gave us the confidence to pursue our entrepreneurial dreams with conviction.”

The 10 teams also competed in a three-minute pitch competition. First place went to Jeremy Holloway’s “Tellegacy” business pitch, winning $1,000. “GeoTinkers” and “Health and Fitness Video Game App,” developed by entrepreneurship students John Poirier and Isaiah Sehrt, tied for second place.

“This event would not happen without the generous support from Tom and Konnie Middleton, and we are so grateful for them,” said Sheila Hanson, associate professor of entrepreneurship & management and a competition coordinator.

The Nistler College would also like to thank the judges and many volunteers, as well as College faculty and staff who helped make the 2023 Middleton Business Plan Competition a success.