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Four teams for 2020 Tiger Cage finals set

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This post originally appeared on the Harbert College of Business newsroom.

The Harbert College of Business is committed to providing a superior student experience, increase cross-campus partnerships, develop graduates who are highly-skilled, professionally-prepared, confident, ethical, and globally-minded. The annual Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition checks those boxes.

Students began in September with fresh business ideas. Four teams hope to parlay those ideas into $50,000 in startup capital on March 27 at the 2020 Tiger Cage Business Idea Finals. The competition – in its sixth year — is sponsored by the Harbert College of Business.

Advancing beyond the Friday, February 28, eight-team semifinals at the Auburn Research Park were:

Remora Robotics, a robotic drone that cleans waterways (Zach Wadzinski, Gi Lee, Harrison Smith and Dakota Newsome, representing the Ginn College of Engineering)

BrewMats, a portable mat that allows Beer Pong to be played without fear of knocking over plastic cups (Everett Connor, representing the Harbert College of Business)

SwiftSku, software that assists convenience store owners in managing inventory (Mit Patel and Daniel Mazur, representing the Ginn College of Engineering)

Blueprint Pal, a weatherproof box that protects blueprints and attaches to the rear of vehicles in the construction industry (Tyler Deaton, Jake Christner, Ryan Pollard, Liana Wood, and David Armstrong, representing the Ginn College of Engineering)

Lou Bifano, Director of Entrepreneurship Strategy at Auburn University, noted that he, Entrepreneur in Residence Scott McGlon, and pitch coaches Dr. Olivia Cook and Dr. Sarah Gascon have been working with the teams ever since the beginning of the competition last fall. “We’ve seen them grow in their abilities to develop business plans that might be attractive to investors,” he said. “We’ve seen them practice how to tell their story. We’ve had workshops on key activities and documents that they need. We’ve seen a lot of progress where these teams are taking basic ideas and developing them out to the point when they might be able to make a real business out of their ideas.”

Teresa A. Vick, Senior Vice President and Consumer Banking Manager at Regions Bank, who served as one of 13 industry professional judges for the semifinals was impressed with the teams’ level of professionalism and energy. As a judge, she looked for teams’ “overall commitment to seeing a project through from start to finish.”

“The level of excitement and passion these teams had about them when they were presenting was very impressive,” she said. “They believed in it, they understood it, and they were all in. The intelligence and some of their ideas were amazing. The teams presented themselves with humility and sincerity.”

Bifano noted that strong student business ideas are a bi-product of the “evolution of Auburn’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.”

“This competition is part of the experiential learning side of developing young entrepreneurs,” he added. “There’s an academic and educational side where the students are learning skills that help them start, run and grow a business. Then there’s the experiential learning side where they take that knowledge and they apply it to their business ideas. The combination of those things are key to having a successful entrepreneurship program and promoting the entrepreneurial spirit with our students.”

The Tiger Cage finals will be Friday, March 27, at 9 a.m. at the Broadway Event Space and Theater inside Horton-Hardgrave Hall on the campus of the Harbert College of Business.