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Two UTK student start-ups awarded $27,500 in latest “Boyd Venture Challenge”

Two start-ups founded by University of Tennessee (UT), Knoxville students won a combined $27,500 in the just completed 20th annual “Boyd Venture Challenge” hosted by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) in the Haslam College of Business.

The latest winners of the award funded by now UT President Randy Boyd are:

  • Alexander Weber, Founder of D3D, an IT consulting and software development service that specializes in extended reality (XR) solutions. He was awarded $20,000. Weber is an MBA candidate in the Haslam College and also a participant in the inaugural cohort of the Bunker Labs “Veterans in Residence” program in Knoxville.
  • Clay Franklin, Founder of Arid Delivery Products, won $7,500 for his start-up focused on providing a better experience for those using food delivery services. Franklin is a senior majoring in finance whose name might be somewhat familiar to biz readers due to three feature articles in the last year.

For Arid Delivery, it’s a trifecta. Franklin captured first place in the “Growth Category” and $5,000 in the just concluded “Graves Business Plan Competition” (see teknovation.biz article here). Less than a month earlier, the company captured second place and $1,000 in the 2022 spring edition of the “Vol Court Speaker Series and Pitch Competition” (see teknovation.biz article here). Finally, Arid Delivery was featured in this article last September after taking home $10,000 in the 2021 “Boyd Venture Challenge.”

Both winners are pictured here with Boyd. Weber is to the President’s left while Franklin is on Boyd’s right.

“For these students, this is the beginning of a very exciting journey ahead, and the ACEI is proud to support, invest and light the way for the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said Lynn Youngs, ACEI Executive Director. “When we say ‘Build Here, Succeed Beyond,’ this isn’t something we say lightly. The ‘Boyd Venture Challenge’ is the springboard for these student companies to launch into success, and we are very excited to see where they all go.”

“Competing and winning in the Boyd Venture Challenge provides my company with the opportunity to scale our operations faster than we expected,” said Weber. “The funds are a blessing to an early start-up, and we are genuinely excited to move forward with the help of such an amazing organization.”

“Capital awarded in the Boyd Venture Challenge directly supports go-to-market operations, accelerating us to first revenue by bolstering production and marketing efforts,” said Franklin. “The win is incredibly motivating, confirming that the judges believe in our product’s viability and market potential.”

Arid Delivery has created six different prototypes from more than 400 in-field tests to produce a delivery bag that effectively keeps meals hot without adding extra moisture, and it is now patent pending.

The “Boyd Venture Challenge’s” prize amounts are determined solely by a panel of judges. Rather than having fixed first, second and third place prize amounts, the judges award different amounts of money to the student companies they feel deserve certain investments.

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