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Five USF Students Place Among the Top 20 at Daveler Pitch Competition

By Keith Morelli

Daveler participants

TAMPA (April 26, 2018) -- Five young entrepreneurs from the University of South Florida finished among the top 20 students from universities all over the state last month in a statewide business pitch competition held in the Muma College of Business.

The event, sponsored by the Frank and Ellen Daveler Fellows and Scholars Program, recognized 20 undergraduates selected from 75 finalists representing 17 colleges and universities.

Through a gift from Frank and Ellen Daveler, the program has been able to provide financial support to high-achieving, aspiring young entrepreneurs. Each year, Daveler Fellows receive $2,500 for competing and Daveler Scholars receive an additional $2,500 to support their entrepreneurial efforts.

To date, over $200,000 in award money has been given to students.

USF's 2018 Daveler Scholars are:

  • William Joel Rondon, an industrial engineering major, whose pitch involved the launching next semester of an app that students can use to find "study buddies."
  • Nicholas Kalra, who is majoring in psychology and statistics with a minor in entrepreneurship, who came up with a design prototype for a mouse-joystick.
  • Megan Kogan, a business management major, who pitched a mobile app for students doing long-distance travel.
  • Matthew Harvey, who is majoring in political science and management, presented a pitch on a proposed drone services business.
  • Derek Austin, an accounting and finance major and member of the Student Innovation Incubator, who is developing technology to train soldiers to listen to their instincts in order to save lives on the battlefield.

"My company is Nerkh Enterprises," Austin said, "and we are using patent-pending technology to artificially stimulate the nervous system to promote cognitive thinking in the advance detection of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED's)."

The Daveler Entrepreneurship Program, in partnership with USF's Center for Entrepreneurship, was founded in 2016 with a goal of promoting entrepreneurship and innovation among undergraduates in Florida universities.

The Daveler Entrepreneurship Program offers undergraduates a unique opportunity to increase their knowledge of business operations and gain insight into the entrepreneurial process in venture creation and growth. Program participants engage in experiential learning opportunities during the competition, under the direction of experienced business mentors.

The pitch competition offers an opportunity to showcase entrepreneurial ideas. Young entrepreneurs present an eight- to 10-minute PowerPoint presentation before a panel of professionals. While business majors typically fare well in these competitions, students from all disciplines who are interested in building entrepreneurial skills also are eligible to take part in the event.