Ready to Hatch
LSU students pitch business ideas for startup money
By Adam Pearson
Posted Apr 10, 2013
There are lots of ways to spend $25,000 on four separate businesses. But it’s a given that the business with the most alluring product or service will attract the most cash. That’s the concept of the second annual LSU Student Incubator Venture Challenge, which will send four entrepreneurs home with a share of $25,000 in startup capital based on creativity and potential profitability.
Assisting more than 40 student-run startups annually, the LSU Student Incubator showcases and awards its best business ideas. The two-round business competition culminates April 19 during a live 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. event at the Crowne Plaza Baton Rouge.
This year’s challengers include a powder-mix company that says its potassium citrate – when mixed with water – is the perfect elixir for preventing kidney stones, an energy efficiency technology company that says its plug-in gadgets and website will cut power bills for homeowners and businesses, a mobile car wash and vacuum service that makes house calls, and a brick and mortar cupcake store that wants to put cupcake vending machines and a cupcake truck on the streets.
Rock Water, says Mark Moss, infuses high levels of powdered potassium – a technology patented at the LSU Food Science Center – with powdered citrate to prevent kidney stones when mixed with water and consumed twice a day.
Rock Water will be an improvement on kidney stone pills that have low rates of compliance among patients, Moss says.
“It’s stone inhibiting,” he continued.
Moss says he got the idea for Rock Water by reading the results of recent studies in the field of urology. Both his father and brother are urologists.
Moss says he’s still seeking the right flavor for Rock Water, but could have a final prototype by early July.
Lauren Lee Stuart says she and co-owner William Wagner of Econofy can help homeowners bring down their electricity bills with the Econofier: a device that plugs into wall outlets and can tamp down the flow and leakage of unused electricity using website controls.
“Econofiers monitor energy usage of products they’re plugged into, then Econofy.com uses the data to guide shopping for upgrades to find the most efficient appliances and electronics,” Stuart said.
Electrical outlets lose “phantom” electricity when electronics and lamps are plugged in but are not in use, Stuart continued. Econofy will prevent that phenomenon from happening, but Stuart can’t estimate the typical cost savings for a homeowner. Econofy is still about a year and a half away from development.
Gary Shuford, CEO of Supedup Auto LLC, says he got the idea to start a mobile car-cleaning business after he and his friend spent years detailing cars for a living. Startup money from the Venture Challenge would allow him to potentially invest in a van and other equipment – like an air compressor and pressure washer – and to run Supedup Auto from the business side while his friend takes care of mobile operations.
With the potential for multiple clients in one particular location, like the parking lot of a large business, Shuford estimates Supedup Auto could clean and detail about three cars an hour.
Kyle Anderman and Andi Carroll opened Frosted, a specialty cupcake maker, more than a year ago at the corner of Nicholson and Lee Drive. But now Anderman is heading to the Venture Challenge with the goal of expanding Frosted with a cupcake truck that can alert fans and followers to its whereabouts via social media and by placing a single cupcake vending machine on the LSU campus.
“We want to do a cupcake truck, kind of similar to a food truck,” Anderman says.
Venture Challenge’s largesse grew by $5,000 this year – last year $20,000 was divvied up among four student companies.