UND alums, student ‘Catch the Spirit!’ at Innovate ND 2012

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College of Business & Public Administration


Catch the spirit! That resonates perfectly with two University of North Dakota alums and a current student who scored top honors at the Innovate North Dakota competition for their business ventures.

The students and their ventures were honored recently at an Innovate ND awards ceremony held at the Ramada Plaza and Suites in Fargo.

Ashley Hahn, a UND Electrical Engineering alum and CEO and founder of Theratainment, won one of the top five prizes of $15,000 and top honors in the "elevator pitch" competition. Hahn, a native of Hazen, N.D., earlier received the Ethel Torreson Stone Entrepreneur Fellowship from the UND Center for Innovation. She got both her bachelor of science and master of science degrees in electrical engineering from UND.

Brett Bruneteau, a recent UND Entrepreneurship alum and CEO and founder of GimmeHockey, won $500 for the "People's Choice Award" and second place in the elevator pitch competition. While he was a student, Brunetau, an Omaha, Neb., native, received the Mueller Entrepreneur Internship from the Center for Innovation; he was also named a WCHA Scholar-Athlete while playing hockey for UND.

Anders Nervold, a current student in the UND Entrepreneurship program and MyQuub co-founder, won third prize in the elevator pitch competition. Nervold, who is from Norway, also received the Mueller Entrepreneur Internship from the Center for Innovation. He also is majoring in space studies and has been a console operator for UND's ISSAC (the International Space Station Agricultural Camera).

"The three competitors came home with trophies and cash, but more importantly with feedback and experience from Innovate North Dakota," said LaRoyce Batchelor, a faculty member in the UND Entrepreneurship program, part of the College of Business and Public Administration.

Innovate North Dakota started this year's competition with 74 entries that, through rigorous coaching and judging, is reduced to the top 20 business ventures. Out of the top 20 ventures, five were selected to receive the top prize of $15,000, individual category winners received $500 each, People's Choice Award received $500, and Elevator Pitch winners received a trophy.

All three competitors from UND received coaching from UND Entrepreneurship Department faculty as well as staff at the Center for Innovation. Judge and mentor Jay Schuler stated at the May 21 awards dinner that UND is doing "amazing things for student ventures." The Entrepreneurship Department and the Center for Innovation work in concert to support student ventures and to provide venues for development.

About Innovate ND

Innovate North Dakota is an annual business venture competition hosted by the State Department of Commerce. It is a statewide initiative designed to help entrepreneurs turn business ideas into viable new North Dakota business ventures. The program provides access to education and advice for developing, testing and launching a successful new business.

Innovate ND was launched by Gov. John Hoeven in 2006 to provide education and support to help people turn business ideas into a reality. It was organized by the North Dakota Department of Commerce, the UND Center for Innovation, and the NDSU Research and Technology Park.

The UND Center for Innovation provides Innovate ND with educational content, entrepreneur coaching, organizational support, and arranges for the angel investors as judges. The Center also coordinates with the other entrepreneur centers and programs across the state.

About the University of North Dakota Department of Entrepreneurship

The Entrepreneurship major in the College of Business and Public Administration is designed to help prepare students for effective new venture creation and management. Students majoring in Entrepreneurship will purse in-depth study of the needs of new and emerging ventures and existing businesses, using an entrepreneurial focus.

Entrepreneurship majors also are encouraged to pursue development of their own business ideas and opportunities.