UNLV team wins business competition

A team from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas took first place Friday in the state’s Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup collegiate business plan competition, aimed at helping young entrepreneurs launch a startup company.

“We’ve known each other for a long time and had this great idea,” said Kyle George, one of the team members for Waste Alternatives Transformation Technologies. “This competition forced us to find the motivation to tie it all together.”

The Governor’s Cup is intended to encourage college students to develop commercially viable business models using technology being developed in universities.

The WATTs team, which won a $20,000 prize to help launch their new business, included college students Keeton Little, a business major, and Josh Beilin, a hotel management major.

“We did it the most natural way we could, and this is what came out of it,” George said.

George’s team developed a business plan aimed at producing clean energy and energy products from municipal, commercial and industrial wastes. Their business model would also help reduce landfill needs in local municipalities.

The team members plan to pitch their idea to small municipalities in the area and get their idea put into action.

In addition to the first place prize, the WATTs team also won the Nevada Commission on Economic Development Commissioner’s Award, worth $2,500. Co-sponsored by Sierra Pacific Power Co., the NCED award recognizes the business plan that best addresses rural Nevada’s economic development needs.

The Governor’s Cup, presented by Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, awarded more than $100,000 in prizes to the state’s top student entrepreneurs.

Also announced Friday at an awards ceremony at Green Valley Station were the winners of the center’s Lieutenant Governor’s Award, which honors student teams with the best plans that employ clean and efficient energy technologies and services.

“This award is at the heart and soul of the future of our state,” said Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki.

The next stop for Governor’s Cup winners will be the first Tri-State Donald W. Reynolds Cup business plan competition in May. Undergraduate and graduate winners from Arkansas and Oklahoma will join Nevada’s winners to compete for $90,000 in cash prizes.

For the first time since its inception, the Governor’s Cup also honored faculty advisers who worked with the student teams.

Getting awards this were Janet Runge of UNLV and Gary Valiere of University of Nevada, Reno.

Runge, who helped to establish UNLV’s major and minor in entrepreneurship, has worked with a number of the competitions teams, including this year’s first-place winners.

“I’m always amazed at how many people come forward with great ideas that are doable,” said Runge, who is already preparing for next year’s event. “It takes time to really do it right.”

Contact Sara Cureton at scureton@ lvbusinesspress.com or 702-387-5273.

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