Students with big ideas earn big money

Mizzou’s Entrepreneur Quest program recently awarded a $30,000 prize pool to three student ventures.

three student headshots

Jack Murray, Aaron Heienickle and Michelle Gershkovich

April 6, 2022

In the future, consumers may be able to purchase a space-saving dog crate, better-fitting uniforms and new party games thanks to a $30,000 prize pool awarded to three University of Missouri student ventures during the final Entrepreneur Quest (EQ) pitch competition that took place in late March.

Nine student teams representing seven MU colleges and schools had seven minutes to pitch their ventures and five minutes to answer questions from a panel of judges. Each pitch was comprehensive and included the venture’s selling points, business plan, market strategies and more.

This year’s “top dog” was Jack Murray, a second-year veterinary student from Pittsburgh. Murray, who won $15,000 for the Murray Kennel Co., designed a dog crate that easily collapses and folds up against a wall like a Murphy bed. He filed a provisional patent with support from his EQ mentors and plans to donate 10% of the revenue from each crate sold to Purina’s Purple Leash Project, which supports pet-friendly domestic violence shelters.

Aaron Heienickle, a sophomore studying marketing and computer science from Weldon Springs, Missouri, won $10,000 for Skypig, a company that sells entrepreneurship games. During his presentation, Heienickle said games with a “doing business” bent like Monopoly are too long and complex for impromptu play. Players pitch random, and often outrageous, products to an “investor” in his easy-to-learn card game.

Michelle Gershkovich, a junior studying textile and apparel management from Northbrook, Illinois, won $5,000. She said during her pitch that 70% of online apparel returns are due to fit issues. Her company, ALLTER, uses an app and machine learning to recommend more accurate clothing sizes to shoppers based on body measurements, preferred fit, customer reviews and other data. Gershkovich is currently working with uniform manufacturers to cut the cost of returns.

Read more from the Division of Research, Innovation and Impact


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