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TOP DAWG New Venture Championships winners announced

A total of $12,500 in cash and prizes was awarded last Friday to Louisiana Tech University student entrepreneurs and innovators during the final round of the 2015 TOP DAWG New Venture Championship.

Members of the campus and local communities gathered in University Hall on the Louisiana Tech campus to hear 11 teams of finalists present their innovative product and service concepts to a panel of area business leaders who were serving as judges. Each of the teams competed in the TOP DAWG Idea Pitch this past October and advanced to compete in the TOP DAWG New Venture Championship. Awards were given to the top three teams as well as a team award for entrepreneurial spirit.

From L to R: Richard Bennett (RotoRanger), Bill Hogan (Bank of Ruston), Matt MacDaniels (RotoRanger), Brandon Parker (Bulldog Entrepreneurs) and Adam Parker (Bulldog Entrepreneurs).

From L to R: Richard Bennett (RotoRanger), Bill Hogan (Bank of Ruston), Matt MacDaniels (RotoRanger), Brandon Parker (Bulldog Entrepreneurs) and Adam Parker (Bulldog Entrepreneurs).

“RotoRanger,” which provides desktop rotational molding machines that bridge the gap from do-it-yourself creations to small scale manufacturing, won first place and a $3,000 cash award. The team, comprised of Richard Bennett (mechanical engineering), Jason Tillman (mechanical engineering), Matt MacDaniels (mechanical engineering) and Bradley Brian (entrepreneurship), also received a $1,000 award from Louisiana Tech’s Innovation Enterprise Fund.

Second place and a $1,500 cash prize was awarded to “The Plastic Eaters” and team members Abubaker Naji (entrepreneurship) , Courtney Allbritton (mechanical engineering), Anthony Lombard (mechanical engineering) and Logan Wells (mechanical engineering), for their product that is designed to effectively shred water bottles into chips, melt them down, and extrude them into the filament that 3D printers utilize.

“BetaFlix” and Sree SanaKam (biomedical engineering) took third place for an innovation that delivers a visual, interactive method of teaching tomorrow’s workforce and enhances the ability to learn and retain knowledge and skills.

Jones Walker presented “Delta Advising Group” and Hong Bich Nguyen (computer information systems) with the $2,000 Jones Walker Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. Delta Advising Group provides study abroad students with online mentoring services, based on a network of students, alumni, and universities around the world. Since its inception in 1937, Jones Walker has become one of the largest law firms in the United States, serving local, regional, national and international business interests in a wide range of markets and industries.

In addition to the cash awards, the Louisiana Tech Enterprise Center sponsors six months of incubator space, valued at $4,500, to each the winning teams.

During the final round off the competition, the teams are scored on the quality of their new venture investment deck and presentation as well as the overall viability of their business concept. This year’s judges were Bill Hogan (president, Bank of Ruston), Michael Leachman (partner, Jones Walker), Keith O’Briant (CEO/Founder, The Heron Group), Ron Ondechek, Jr. (fund manager, New Louisiana Angel Fund 1) and Blair Suire (associate, Jones Walker.)

The TOP DAWG competition, established in 2002, is organized by Bulldog Entrepreneurs – a student organization that empowers entrepreneurs and promotes innovation on the Louisiana Tech campus. Bulldog Entrepreneurs (BE) host both the annual TOP DAWG Idea Pitch and TOP DAWG New Venture Championship events to encourage students to build innovative, creative products and services that create value in the marketplace. The New Venture Championship also showcases intellectual properties developed by Louisiana Tech researchers and students. Participants promote new technologies as well as create non-technology based ventures.

The 2015 TOP DAWG was sponsored by the Louisiana Tech College of Business, Louisiana Tech College of Engineering and Science, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Information Technology (CEnIT), the Louisiana Tech Enterprise Center, the Innovation Enterprise Fund and the Technology Business Development Center (TBDC).