Four student entrepreneur finalists competed to win thousands of dollars and resources at the 12th annual UCF Joust New Venture Competition on Friday with presentations starting at 1:45 p.m. in the Business Administration building.

The live presentation took place in room 107, but due to overcrowding, people could sit in the atrium and room 135. Approximately 500 people attended the event while 100 watched it online.

The Joust hosted by the Center for Entrepreneur Leadership is a competition to help promote entrepreneurship to students and help launch their ventures where the top four win up to $75,000 in cash and business services. The cash awards are split up: first place, $10,000; second place, $5,000; third place, $3,000; fourth place, $2,000.

Talon Simulations, which creates virtual reality simulations for flight training and gaming, won first place.

"We are very grateful and it's going to open a lot of doors for us to deliver our first products," said Brandon Naids, a 2014 mechanical engineering alumnus who's pursing a master's in industrial engineering, is one of the founders of Talon Simulations.

Naids said the money will most likely go toward product development.

Brandon Carpenter, a senior in aerospace engineering, and his business team Feynman Nano took second place.

Ashley Miller, a senior economics and management major who's the creator of the online-based bra subscription service Ze-Bra, won third place.

"I was very excited about just competing. I think I was a little bit less in development, but I had a good grasp on everything," Miller said.

Ze-Bra also won fan favorite when more than 39 percent of the 468 audience members who voted chose Ze-Bra as their favorite venture, giving Miller an additional $1,000.

The fourth place winners represented Wagner Industries with their miniature satellite rockets.

"It's not exactly the easiest to pitch in a little amount of time," said Cameron Johnson, a senior electrical engineering major who's the avionics systems design lead of Wagner Industries.

"We basically redid our entire business plan before the finals," Johnson said.

Each company had 15 minutes to present while the judges had 10 minutes to deliberate and ask questions.

Between the finalists' presentations, several semifinalists presented their products and services.

The competition was judged by Robert Danna, a 1979 alumnus and the director of Organization Transformation & Talent Deloitte Talent Consulting LLP; Carrie Hall, a 1986 alumna and a partner with Assurance Services, Ernst & Young LLP; Mitchell Less, a 1986 alumnus and a partner with Grant Thornton LLP and a 2015 Hall of Fame Inductee; Richard Walsh, a 1977 and 1983 alumnus and the president of KnobHill Group and a former senior vice president of Darden Restaurants.

The entrepreneurs were judged by the following criteria, each weighing 25 percent of their outcome: proposed product/service and market opportunity, financial/revenue model and financial projections, team and execution plan, and impact.


Veronica Brezina is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future.

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