A team of Seton Hill University students is among the 25 finalists in e-Fest® 2019 and the Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge and will travel to Minneapolis in April to compete for $250,000 in prizes. This is the second time in three years that a Seton Hill student team was selected as a national finalist.
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The Seton Hill team, consisting of students Randi Selbekk, a senior business administration – entrepreneurial studies major from Lensvik, Norway; Rachael Bowers a junior business administration – entrepreneurial studies major from Jefferson Hills, Pa.; Taryn Six, a senior graphic design major from Greensburg, Pa.; and Elizabeth Engel, a junior graphic design major from Pittsburgh, Pa., was selected as a finalist from among more than 100 entrants.
Josh Gottlieb, a junior mathematics major from Jefferson Hills, Pa., has joined the team since its creation and will attend e-Fest in place of Taryn Six and Elizabeth Engel, who are unable to attend due to previous commitments.
They will be competing against teams from colleges and universities across the country, including Princeton University, Auburn University, James Madison University, Northeastern University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Washington, University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech, for $250,000 in prizes.
The Seton Hill team’s business idea for U-TREKS, a shoe with retractable spikes to provide stability on inconsistent terrain, was developed for the competition as part of Assistant Professor of Business Lyzona Marshall’s Seminar for Entrepreneurs course.
“All of us at Seton Hill are delighted that another group of Seton Hill student entrepreneurs are among the national finalists in the e-Fest competition, building on the university’s long history of encouraging entrepreneurship among its students,” said Seton Hill President Mary C. Finger. “Randi, Taryn, Rachael, Elizabeth
“I am thrilled to once again travel to Minnesota with a talented group of Seton Hill student entrepreneurs to participate in this extraordinary real-world experience,” said Lyzona Marshall. “The experience of building a business idea from scratch and presenting it on a national stage is one that can’t be easily replicated in the classroom, and I am excited that Seton Hill students are able to participate in this opportunity.”
“We are extremely excited and humbled to have been selected as a Top 25 Team,” said Rachael Bowers. “It's an awesome achievement and we look forward to traveling to Minnesota to compete alongside students from around the country. We are excited to move forward with the project and take advantage of the opportunities that e-Fest will present our product and team.”
Earlier this year, Seton Hill received a $1,500 grant from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation to support idea development needs for teams to participate in the competition. Five business video pitch and slide decks were chosen by Marshall to be submitted to the national competition.
The U-TREKS team developed a business pitch deck for a shoe with retractable spikes that has the design of a fashionable sneaker but provides stability in any type of terrain or weather. A button on the heel of the shoe will push the spikes out of the bottom of the shoe and retract them based on the user’s preference.
“Entrepreneurs find solutions to problems, and one major problem in society today is lack of exercise which can cause major health issues and obesity,” Randi Selbekk said. “But the constant weather changes in Pennsylvania makes it challenging to exercise outdoors and we wanted to solve this problem. U-TREKS will allow people to safely exercise outdoors and maintain a healthy body and mind. Our goal is to reduce the ongoing issue of obesity and help people feel safe exercising in any terrain and weather condition.”
“We realized that there are no products in the market that solve this problem, and therefore, we saw the opportunity to develop shoes with retractable spikes,” added Taryn Six. “Our idea is fashionable, affordable and a safety tool for everyone living in places where the weather is inconsistent.”
Elizabeth Engel said, “We believe that our product is a necessity in the market and if we win, we will use the money to launch the idea and move forward with the production of our product.”
The Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge is sponsored by the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas, the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, founded by Dick Schulze who created Best Buy Co., and EIX.org, an online platform for entrepreneurs, students and professors, with fully vetted interviews, articles and content from those who have succeeded in building a business or developing a product or service for the global marketplace.
Photo: Seton Hill University U-TREKS team members Josh Gottlieb, Taryn Six, Rachael Bowers, Elizabeth Engel