A team of three UNLV students partnered with a local entrepreneur to develop his business idea and took home the grand prize at the Dominic Anthony Marrocco 2012 Southern Nevada Business Competition.
The team received $65,000 in cash and prizes after beating out 30 teams working to bring their business ideas to fruition. The competition was organized by the Center for Entrepreneurship at the UNLV Lee Business School and the Las Vegas Business Press.
The winning team captivated the judges with Geyser Flow Control, a metal disc that can be attached to a sprinkler head and limits water flow during a device malfunction. It reduces the flow of pressure to the sprinkler head, resulting in more concentrated water drops hitting the lawn. The team estimates the device could save homeowners as much as 10,000 gallons of water per household, per year.
"I am exhilarated for myself and for my team who brought life to this project," said Peter Maksymec, a former gaming executive who approached UNLV with his idea last year. "We are excited about the impact this product could have on the community and pleased that it will help many communities that suffer from limited water resources."
UNLV Master of Business Administration students as well as engineering students, Josh Ellison , Seth Ostrowsi and Mike Giannini worked jointly on the product.
In previous years, UNLV engineering students, as part of a biannual senior class competition, designed and created inventions with commercial potential that solve everyday engineering challenges. Those engineering students then partnered with UNLV's MBA program to develop business plans for their products.
But for the first time since the competition began in 2010, outside community members were invited to participate. Maksymec approached Rama Venkat, the dean of engineering, and Andrew Hardin, the director for the UNLV's Center for Entrepreneurship, about his idea. Maksymec was quickly teamed with students who helped him develop plans for all aspects of the business, including finance, marketing, operations, management and more.
Michael Giannani, a UNLV graduate student, said he was happy to commit his time to a product with amazing business potential.
"Of all the projects I have worked on here at UNLV, this has been the most challenging and the most rewarding and I am very thankful," said Giannini, who will be working with Maksymec throughout the summer to put the business plan in action.
The team plans to compete in the Nevada Governor's Cup and is a finalist in the San Diego State University Venture Challenge competition.
It was also announced Friday night that the Southern Nevada Business Plan Competition now is the namesake of Dominic Anthony Morocco, an entrepreneur in residence at UNLV. Morrocco offered $115,000 over four years, which will primarily be used as prize money. Morrocco, originally from Leeds, UK, runs businesses in property, information technology, venture capital funds and supports multiple charities.
Other finalists of the Southern Nevada Business Plan Competition included:
- Beam - UNLV students Kat Winosky, Brandon Phillips, Matthew Godlewski, Marc Rollera and Rob Lea partnered to develop Beam, a shoebox-size device that attaches to a utility company's solar system and controls the way solar panels absorb the sun's rays.
- SNAP - UNLV students Nathan Turner, Abdoul Diaby, Susan Purfiled, Kalissa Cyrkiel and Patricia Harrison developed the Student Navigation Advisor Panel, or SNAP, which helps students and advisors track educational courses through an online system and aims to decrease the financial burdens of students and higher education institutions.
- Mash Tool - UNLV students Eric Horbinski, Elizabeth Lewis, Lora Hendrickson, Lawrence Nethercott and Jeremy Lusk developed a pogo stick shaped-tool for the landscaping industry, designed to help dig and plow yards.
- Mad Sensor - UNLV students Adam Jackson, Shehan Peries and Gerson Recinos developed a motorcycle accident detection systems, or MAD, which is built specifically for motorcycles.