Events & Media

Two Bren School Teams Win $17,500 Total at UCSB Business Competition
Salty Girl Seafood and Bottle Branders combine to win two top prizes and one second prize at 15th annual Santa Barbara Technology Management Program New Venture Competition

May 23, 2014

Santa Barbara, Calif.A pair of Bren School Eco-Entrepreneurship teams rose to the top of the six-team pool competing in the final round of the 2014 UCSB Technology Management Program New Venture Competition.

Salty Girl Seafood founders (from right): Gina Auriemma, Laura Johnson, web designer Andreas Viggen, Norah Eddy, and Virgil Elings after Salty Girl was presented with the $5,000 check they received as Elings Prize winners at the 2014 TMP New Venture Competition.
Photo by Sonia Fernandez

Salty Girl Seafood, the School Eco-Entrepreneurship start-up company made up of Bren students Gina Auriemma, Norah Eddy, and Laura Johnson (all MESM 2014), took home the $5,000 Elings Prize, the $5,000 People's Choice prize, and the $2,500 second-place prize in the Market Pull category, while Bottle Branders, the creation of Max Ludington, Harish Prather and Ryan Wilson (all MESM 2014), earned the $5,000 top prize in the Market Pull category. That made a grand total take of $17,500 for the Bren School teams.

The big winner of the day was ShadowMaps, a GPS-related system developed by UCSB engineering students to overcome the "shadow effect" in which tall buildings in urban areas can "confuse" GPS systems and create errors in cell-phone GPS location.

Salty Girl Seafood provides a transparent seafood marketing and delivery system that connects fishermen to consumers (such as high-end restaurants) in a way that addresses the issues of mislabeling and sustainability that are big problems in the seafood industry.

"We had such a great experience participating the New Venture Competition, and we were really honored to receive our awards," the team said. "The Bren Community has been such an amazing and positive source of support, and it was so great to see so many familiar faces in the audience on the day of the event! Having two Bren teams participating and taking home prizes made the day all the sweeter! We truly could not be more appreciative of everyone, and we look forward to launching Salty Girl Seafood following our graduation in a few short weeks."

Bottle Branders (from left): Max Ludington, Ryan Wilson, Harish Prather, and Lance Lowenberg, a mechanical engineering student.
Photo by Melissa Van De Werfhorst

Bottle Branders is developing an industry-standard upgrade of the half-gallon "growler" container popularized by micro-breweries. The new container features a CO2 system that keeps the beer carbonated and a magnetic labeling system so that microbreweries can create different labels for their various beers and swap them from one container to another, as needed.

"The competition was an excellent opportunity for us to hone our business plan and to get valuable feedback from highly knowledgeable judges," said Max Ludington. "I think the strong showing from the Bren teams speaks to the quality of ideas and thinking coming out of the Eco-E program. We are excited about the opportunity to move our business forward and to promote sustainability in the craft beer industry."

???I have never seen such consistency of quality of the teams,??? said Mike Panesis, TMP entrepreneurial programs manager. Innovations in the realms of biotechnology, sustainable fisheries, improved GPS location, product distribution, and customer service were presented to a panel of judges who grilled the competitors on their business plans. This year, the majority of the teams were heavy with members from the College of Engineering.

The final round was the culmination of a year???s worth of effort for each of the teams and the result of several rounds of competition from an initial pool of 26. The biggest prizes went to ShadowMaps, cloud-based software that supplements GPS location in urban environments. It took the $10,000 grand prize and the $10,000 first place prize for the Tech Push category.