Solinna Onwochei, a sophomore at Culver Girls Academy, who came up with the idea of creating a battery-powered bucket that can treat impure water to make it safe to drink was selected as the winner of this year’s Culver Academies Elevator Pitch Competition sponsored by The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur.
The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur hosts several competitions each year.
The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur has partnered with Impact Competition to host the first annual event at Culver Academies. For this year’s event, the Impact Competition partnered with Culver Blessings in a Backpack. The goal is to provide Culver Blessings in a Backpack with sustainable, impactful ideas that will benefit the stated needs of the organization.
“The Impact Competition incentivizes the smartest students in the country to learn more about the issues in their community, find solutions, and implement them to make a real difference in the world around them.”Lance BreitsteinFounder, Impact Competition
The Miclot Competition
Thanks to an endowment by Andy and Sharlene Miclot of Austin, Texas, The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur’s Miclot Family Business Plan Competition provides Culver students with a realistic competition requiring teamwork, collaboration, and field research, under the guidance of a mentor entrepreneur.
The Miclot Family Business Plan Competition is actually an opportunity assessment plan competition, and the term “business plan” is used for the sake of brevity. This competition includes a description of the product, service, or venture and its market need. Competitive products, services, and ventures are assessed, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each competitor. The plan includes the unique selling propositions of the product or service, along with future growth and characteristics of the market.
Any Culver Academies student is eligible to compete in the Miclot Family Business Plan Competition. For instructions on how to compete, please click below for the competition guidelines.
- 1st Place ($5,000): Sean Coxhead ’24 (Palmetto Bay, FL) – National Property Consolidation Network – a business plan that removes the bank out of home mortgages and allows for smaller share investment opportunities. Mentor: Steve Medwin
- 2nd Place ($1,000): Liam Shi ’22 (West Lafayette, IN); Marc Palicki ’22 (Glen Ellyn, IL); Aydin Turgut ’22 (South Bend, IN) – Societas – a charity platform that gamifies giving and participation by combining social media and competition. Mentor: Jack Elwood
- 3rd Place ($500): Lena Spiller ’23 (Louisville, KY) and Monique Tamon ’23 (Novi, MI) – ZenTap – a shower system designed to both reduce usage and maintain relaxing, customizable options. Mentor: Dana Brown ’14 and former Miclot Finalist
2021: No competition due to COVID-19 campus restrictions.
2020: No competition due to COVID-19 early dismissal.
2019: Slide – Luis Franco, Beau Barich, and Xinrui Shi – A case with three interchangeable batteries for cell phones building of an old idea when cell phones first became pocket-sized. The new design reduces the size of the batteries and case, making them more convenient and accessible.
2018: STEM Shot – Harrison Steck and Corbin Steck – A smartphone application that would let students and teachers use their devices to complete assignments and spur discussions about the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
2017: Pulse – Nicolas Walker & Ryan Gies – A mobile application that can be the “heartbeat” of a campus. It can be used to highlight everything from major events to micro-level happenings. It lends transparency to what is actually happening at a school, all based on user preferences.
2016: Channel Abroad – Charles Zhang – A platform where those interested in studying abroad could access first-hand information and meet like-minded people.
2015: VisSig – Rayford Dexter El II, Sam Concannon, and Josh Thompkins – A visual identification electronic system to protect credit card integrity
2014: Studebiker – Brennan Hussey & Santiago Aguirre – A campus-wide bicycle rental company.
2013: C4 – Adam Stathakis & Hayes Barnes – A website for ambitious people to share goals and keep track of progress that they make.
2012: VidBid – Harris Allen & Baily Roubos – An online auction site with video.
2011: spAIR – Sky Strycker & Madeleine Loney – Tiny suitcases with toiletries and clean clothes for stranded travelers or travelers whose luggage is lost.
Nick Chaney is the Executive Vice President at U.S. Granules Corporation located in Plymouth, IN. U.S. Granules engages in the processing of industrially generated laminated aluminum foil scrap and the subsequent manufacture of secondary aluminum granules.
Kamilah Triplett is the Controller at Culver Academies. Kami oversees and manages accounting-related activities, including high-level accounting, managerial accounting, and finance activities, with Culver Academies. She is an entrepreneur who ran Next Level Softball for eleven years.
Hayes Barnes, CMA ’14 is a Sr. Market Research Associate at Eli Lilly and Company providing strategic insights in support of upcoming Oncology assets in Lilly’s pipeline. Previously, Hayes led the strategy, development, and measurement of omnichannel marketing for current Lilly Oncology products.
Culver entrepreneurs compete individually in the annual Elevator Pitch Competition, a contest that requires a "big idea" and a smooth sales talk in less than three minutes, the length of an average elevator ride. Contestants make their pitch while standing before two professional entrepreneurs who act as judges.
2023 Winner & Runners-Up
- Solinna Onwochei '25(Kalamazoo, Michigan) won the $400 first prize for her idea of creating a bucket that would purify water that people in poorer countries get from rivers and lakes. She said the bucket would warm the water and instill it with water-purification powder to reduce the risk of people contracting various water-borne diseases.
- Meagan Feick ’24 (Culver, Indiana) and Dylan Hamilton ’25 (Highlands Ranch, Colorado) came up with the idea of an app called “Scan” that would allow users to scan the complicated ingredients in skin care and other products to explain in plain language what each ingredient is and what it does. The students said the app would warn users of possible allergic reactions or cancer risks. The app also would give each product a grade of A to F to let users know how good it is for their skin.
- Kennedy Burlison '24 (Marco Island, Florida)
- Brit Crockett '25 (Johnson City, Tennesee)
- Helli Kemmler ’24 (Culver, Indiana)
- Aiden Cartmel ’25 Mercer Island, Washington, and
- Ed Kelley, Master Instructor
- J.D. Uebler, Master Instructor & Director of the Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur
Past Winners & Judges
Two business concepts that would reduce waste in the food industry were selected as the 2022 winners:
- Isabel Bernard ’23 (San Pedro Sula, Honduras) won the environmental/sustainability and people’s choice awards for her concept for edible silverware.
- Christian Tolksdorf ’23 (Skokie, Illinois) and Victor Zhang ’23 (Quingdao, China) won the general category with their concept on reducing food waste in the Lay Dining Hall.
- Ellen Joyce – A graduate of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and the ESTEEM program at the University of Notre Dame, Joyce is the co-founder and CEO of Digital Leader Academy, which brings Silicon Valley into the classroom by creating curriculums that educate students on emerging technology and the entrepreneurial process. Her goal is to increase the visibility of technology to women and under-represented students.
- Rian McDonnell – A graduate of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and the ESTEEM program at the University of Notre Dame, McDonnell is the Founder and CEO of Flowaste, a food analytics platform that uses proprietary image recognition technology to food service providers to optimize meal preparations and portion sizing, while reducing labor costs to maximize profits and minimize excess.
The Investment Group
Currently, The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur is hosting an Investment Simulation where over thirty students registered. The Investment Group meets bi-weekly led by a group of students with a focus in discussing investing fundamentals, market concepts, and trends, and the sessions end with the traditional "gains and losses" predictions.