Teams of student entrepreneurs from the College of Business’ Austin Lab program closed their 2015-16 competition season by taking the top two spots at the fourth annual Civil War Shark Tank held recently at the University of Oregon.
Austin Lab is part of the college’s Austin Entrepreneurship Program, which aims to train startup-minded students in design thinking and innovation management and provide them with resources and mentorship.
Placing first in the Shark Tank were Alex Dassise and Spencer Kleweno, whose company, DiscJam, is a designer and manufacturer of flying speakers that incorporate an MP3 player and Bluetooth speaker into a throwable disc. DiscJam has begun selling a beta version of the product and is part of the summer 2016 cohort at the Advantage Accelerator, OSU’s business incubator.
Dassise, who just finished his freshman year, developed the product as a means of connecting and communicating with his younger brother, who’s autistic. Sales are under way on a beta version of the flying speakers, which are proving popular with college students. Dassise also hopes DiscJam will catch on in the autistic community, enabling autistic people and their loved ones to better engage with each other.
“Throw your favorite music” and “connect through music and motion” are two of the company’s slogans.
Coming in second were Steven Miller and Moriah Shay of Enterprising Education, which has already raised more than $30,000 to build a mobile makerspace and develop K-12 curriculum in science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship and math. Miller and Shay intend to train undergraduates to run their own socially focused microenterprises that will provide experiential learning opportunities, mentorship and college preparatory resources to students in rural and/or lower-income school districts.
DiscJam took home $1,000 for finishing first, and Enterprising Education pocketed $650.
OSU students from the Entrepreneurship Club took the top three spots in the elevator-pitch competition held in conjunction with the shark tank.
“I am very proud of all of our students and I think this has been a great way to cap off our entrepreneurship competitions for 2016,” said Dale McCauley, program manager for the College of Business’ Austin Entrepreneurship Program.