Four contestants will compete in their final round of Tiger Cage, Auburn University’s business pitch competition, at 8:30 a.m. on Friday in the Broadway Event Space and Theater in Horton-Hardgrave Hall.
The Shark Tank-inspired competition started off with 25 applicants before being whittled down to 20, who presented an early stage product, service or business concept in the quarterfinal back in January. From 20 applicants to 10 to four, the finalists will present to a team of 14 judges.
Lou Bifano, director of the New Venture Accelerator, said the judges are a diverse group comprised of successful entrepreneurs, individuals who fund startups, Auburn alumni and friends of Auburn. They will rank the top four by their opinion of who has the best idea and which contestant does the best job presenting.
The contestants will compete for $54,000 in the early stage startup capital. The 14 judges will decide how to divide the startup capital prize amongst the contestants.
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Scott Rowe, a graduate student in the Harbert Business College and founder of Rodopto, plans on using the winning capital to purchase a drone to continue his mission in sustainable crop production.
“Technology’s finally at a point where you can do a lot more, with a lot less,” said Rowe. “It used to be that you had to take a crop duster and spray an entire field. Now, you have the ability to potentially apply a fraction of the amount of some of these chemicals using drones,”.
According to Rowe, one drone is estimated to be $20,000.
Parvin Fathi-Hafshejani with Dropllel said she would use the capital to finish prototyping her product, an electronic biosensor that can detect antigens, such as COVID-19, quickly and accurately.
The Dropllel sensor would attach to a healthcare worker’s cell phone or monitor, to rapidly diagnose patients with antigens in 20 seconds. The product works on antigens such as the flu, chicken pox and hCG.
“I’m so excited about it! Because as we saw in the pandemic, there was a lot of loss of people and a lot of suffering, but if we have something that can diagnose COVID-19 just in seconds, then you could save lives. You could prevent the disease around the world,” said Fathi-Hafshejani.
The two other contestants are presenting OMNIS and Archangel Defense.
Zakariya Veasey and Evan Henley have created OMNIS, a peer-to-peer social platform that allows individuals to borrow money through the community with short-term, micro-loans that meet their immediate needs.
Archangel Defense was created by Shay Pilcher, a student at the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. His product is a provider of customized equipment for combat situations.
“This year we have the best group that we’ve ever had. also delighted to see the diversity of the competitors,” said Bifano. “We’re all excited about the opportunity to help students who want to start a business while they’re pursuing an academic degree, help them be successful and accelerate the time from idea to product in the marketplace.”