by Mariah Wahl
With only eight minutes to pitch their product, Cole Evans ’18, Thayer Selleck ’18, and Vikram Patel ’18 demonstrate a remarkable amount of calm for three people with $25,000 on the line. When President Danny Anderson announces their win, however, excited cheers break through that cool demeanor.
Their start-up, Plova Chewing Gum, won the Stumberg Competition’s $25,000 grand prize with their “on-the-go” complement to regular oral hygiene. The circular blue gum contains Cetylpyridium chloride, the active ingredient found in most mouthwashes. This patented use of CPC is what sets Plova apart from other gums that claim to whiten teeth. According to their sales pitch, chewing Plova can whiten your smile as well as reduce plaque and bacteria in between daily tooth brushing.
Trinity University hosted the inaugural Stumberg Business Plan Competition Finals in the Center for the Sciences and Innovation (CSI) Cube. Four teams of students presented final versions of their entrepreneurial endeavors in the hope of walking away with $25,000 to continue building their businesses.
Similar to popular pitch shows, such as Shark Tank on ABC, a panel of judges determined Trinity’s winners. The five judges were a gathering of successful business people, and two were Trinity alumni: Bert Jones ’78, investor, and Jenna Fagnan ’95, president of Tequila Avión.
In a last-minute surprise decision, finalists Denify and the Laundry Crew LLC were each awarded $5,000 of free business consulting from James Brehm, competition judge and founder of James Brehm & Associates.
Noso Pockets, Denify Health Solutions App, the Laundry Crew LLC, VHT, and Plova Chewing Gum were finalists from the preliminary round last April. Each finalist won $5,000 and a free stay at Trinity over the summer to develop their initial business plans. More than just an award of capital, these students had the opportunity to be mentored in their business plans and seek expert advice from Trinity’s entrepreneurs-in-residence, Mark Hill ’77 and Chris Warren ’78.
Plova focused their marketing on the hospitality industry. Currently, they have several pre-sale agreements in place with hotels that plan to make their chewing gum available to busy travelers. They are planning talks with Southwest Airlines to expand their reach.
For their next step, Plova set their sights on San Antonio’s military community. With money from the Stumberg Competition, the team plans to run clinical trials with Plova and approach dentists about putting the gum in their offices.
“It feels indescribable to win. It’s rewarding to have our team effort recognized,” says Evans. “Next, I guess we’ll stop by the bank to cash this check! Then we’ll place a new order of gum and focus on future goals as a team.”
Mariah Wahl is an intern in the Office of University Marketing & Communications who writes and edits for Trinity’s Undergraduate Research Blog and the Trinity Perspective. She is an English major from Longmont, Colo.