BOSS Competition

Student entrepreneurs from across The Ohio State University were recognized for their new ideas at the annual Best of Student Startup (BOSS) competition.

Presented by the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship, BOSS provides teams of Ohio State students the opportunity to create and pitch new products, services or technologies to a panel of entrepreneurs and leaders. The event is a culmination of a semester-long workshop that fosters entrepreneurial curiosity and processes.

“We knew BOSS was a great opportunity for teams to form executable business strategies,” said Mik Treiber, a fourth-year accounting student. “Before the competition, there was a lot still up in the air – competing features to build, growth strategies to act on, and future paths to take. BOSS motivated us to collect our thoughts and organize a plan our team (and hopefully those in the audience) could get behind.”

Treiber, along with Michael Gerace (computer and information science) and Craig Dunton (computer science and engineering), created Grain. Their product, which earned second place and $1,500, seeks to streamline how customizable menus at restaurants are processed.

“It’s a menu-processing solution using computer vision and AI to analyze customizable menus, like Condado’s paper and pencil menu system,” Treiber said. “As of now, the solution comes in the form of an app. Restaurant servers will use the app to take a picture of the filled-in menu. Within seconds, the order ingredients are identified and sent to both the kitchen and Point-of-Sale system.”

The competition, which began with 41 applications, connected students with a panel of entrepreneurs that included:

  • Seth Miller, co-founder and CEO of Rapchat
  • Cheryl Turnbull, senior director of venture capital and new ventures at Ohio State
  • Alexia Winfield, founder and creative director of The Columbus Book Project
  • Andrew Fu and Gus Workman, undergraduate students and finalists from the Spring 2018 BOSS competition
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Seth Miller, a judge at the 2018 Fall BOSS competition, provides feedback to a team.

“Throughout the competition, our team was blown away by the support of key stakeholders and influencers in the Columbus community,” Treiber said. “It definitely made our team better appreciate the fact that entrepreneurship is not a solo sport.”

Food science and technology students Amy Andes and Sara Steinbrunner took first place and earned $2,000 for Beannut Butter, a brand of spreads crafted from garbanzo beans that is vegan, non-GMO and free of the eight most-common food allergens.

Pharmacy students Paul Oyefesobi and Aniket Patel finished third ($500) for RxMedAccess, a tool for physicians and pharmacists to view therapeutic alternatives for patients’ formularies.

“The BOSS competition is a great opportunity for students to get connected to the Ohio State and Columbus entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Jake Cohen, program director, collaboration and events for the Keenan Center. “Our goal is to support student entrepreneurs and their business ventures at every stage of development.”

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Nafis Azad (left) and Chris Asman, the team behind Studium.

For Treiber and his teammates, the BOSS experience provided plenty of valuable lessons.

“Something our team took away from this experience is the value of communicating a clear and compelling story,” Treiber said. “When you spend countless hours collaborating and building an advanced understanding of a particular industry, it’s pretty easy to confuse others — especially when getting lost in your own excitement. Throughout the competition we learned many lessons around storytelling and communication.”

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Emily Bethauser (left), Jessica Hook and Jax Diaz-Miranda, the team behind Faci.