Language software company wins New Venture Competition

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Language software company wins New Venture Competition

Business plan tournament awards $55,000 to student startups
Grace Clausen and Bridget Peterkin, both senior computer science majors from Omaha, present their team's business, Dyslexico, during the 2023 New Venture Competition. Dyslexico is a spell-check and autocorrect solution optimized for people with dyslexia.
Garrett Stolz | Business
Nebraska’s Center for Entrepreneurship crowned the Dyslexico team as champions of the 2023 New Venture Competition. Grace Clausen and Bridget Peterkin, both senior computer science majors from Omaha, presented the award-winning pitch. Dyslexico is a spell-check and autocorrect solution optimized for people with dyslexia.

Following the bracket-busting excitement of March Madness, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Center for Entrepreneurship recently hosted its own high-stakes tournament through the New Venture Competition, a business plan pitch contest. More than 40 student teams representing seven colleges at Nebraska competed in a bracket format, with the business Dyslexico taking first place and a $15,000 cash prize.

Dyslexico is a spell-check and autocorrect solution optimized for people with dyslexia — a learning disorder characterized by difficulty reading. The software is currently in beta testing.

“Our overall vision is making an impact on the lives of dyslexic people everywhere,” said team member Grace Clausen. “We know how big of a problem this is, and we know that through the help we received in this competition, we can really make an impact.”

The Dyslexico team and three others will be considered for further investment of up to $25,000 from the Husker Venture Fund, a student-led fund in the College of Business. The benefits of participating in the competition go beyond funding, though.

“The New Venture Competition provides student entrepreneurs an amazing experiential learning opportunity that requires them to demonstrate creativity, business acumen, critical thinking and communication skills,” said Sam Nelson, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and associate professor of practice in management. “The competition also enables students to expand their network by interacting with multiple competitors and judges.”

Participants in the 2023 New Venture Competition walk in a large ballroom.
Garrett Stolz | Business
More than 40 student teams, representing seven colleges at Nebraska, participated in the 2023 New Venture Competition.

Several former competitors now run businesses originally pitched in New Venture, including Stahla Services, Nobl, Pawlytics and Oak Barn Beef. Nelson noted the economic impact the competition can have.

“The very first winner was Bill Champion (’89), who runs Venel, an orthopedic marketing company, which is a version of the company he pitched in 1987,” he said. “These businesses create jobs and generate economic activity within the local economy. It is a great place to get traction on your business.” Winners of the competition and their businesses include:

Grand prize ($15,000) — Dyslexico: Grace Clausen, senior, computer science, Omaha; Tristan Curd, senior, computer science, Omaha; Bridget Peterkin, senior, computer science, Omaha; and Schadrack Shumbusho, integrated science, Kigali, Rwanda.

Second place ($12,500) — InforMedic: Tan Phan, junior, management and mathematics, Lincoln; and Pranav Rajan, senior, management, Lincoln. InforMedic is an insurance technology startup that revolutionizes the life insurance underwriting process by summarizing medical records and automating the rate classification process. The entrepreneurs also are applying the technology to the annuity, long-term care and disability spaces.

Third place ($10,000) — Beacon: Maci Wilson, senior, computer science, Omaha. Beacon is an autonomous drone system that makes bridge inspection more efficient and safer.

Fourth place ($7,500) — Pat on Tap: Abby Miller, senior, animal science, Mead. Pat on Tap is a mobile bar and photo booth for gatherings in the Lincoln and Omaha areas.

Thomas G. Guy Startup Team Awards ($5,000 per team), awarded to the teams that displayed the best organization and collaboration:

  • Dilya Ahmadbekova, junior, management, Lincoln; Danae Contino, senior, graphic design, Lincoln; and Gabe Sehnert, senior, management, McCook. Toolbox provides the venue and resources to help adolescents develop life skills and express themselves.

  • Jacob Ensz, senior, management, Omaha; Brennon Overbeek, junior, computer science, Lincoln; and Paige Perrone, senior, advertising and public relations, Papillion. Street Eats is a platform that simplifies the process for food truck owners to find and book events while ensuring compliance with local regulations and laws.

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