5 teams receive $5,000 from Stumberg seed fund


Photo credit: Genevieve Humphreys

Photo by Genevieve Humphreys

Five teams of Trinity students walked away with $5,000 on Tuesday night that will go towards their business concepts in the seed round of the fifth annual Stumberg Competition hosted by the Department of Entrepreneurship.

The winners — ProjecTech, La Escuela de Estella, Storyspread, heARTful and Skate Cuff — will stay on-campus over the summer to participate in an accelerator program, where they will attend various workshops and use their $5,000 to build their businesses. In the fall, the five winning teams will compete for the $25,000 grand prize in the final round of the Stumberg competition.

Each of the seven competing teams pitched their business concepts to a panel of five judges in front of an audience of around 70 people. The five volunteer judges were either local entrepreneurs or involved with the local entrepreneurial community. Martinez explained why the judges were not Trinity-affiliated.

“One, they’re all experienced entrepreneurs, so they have probably the best set of understanding what the students are trying to do and whether or not there’s a likelihood for success there. Two, it validates for students that what they are doing actually has real world applications and real world benefits,” said Luis Martinez, director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “Then three, it serves as a further engagement opportunity to help Trinity engage with other members of the outside community, both locally and statewide.”

The teams were judged based on their 10-minute pitch, 10-minute question and answer session with the judges and supplemental materials that they submitted prior to the event.

“One of the first criteria that they’re going to evaluate is, ‘Could this be a real, viable business’?” Martinez said. “The second thing they’re going to evaluate most likely will be, ‘Does it serve a need? Does it meet a demand somewhere in the marketplace?’ The third thing that they’re evaluating is, ‘Is their path to taking advantage of this opportunity, does it sound reasonable?’ And they understand that it’s very much an early stage, it might shift during the course of the experience, but they’re really looking to see whether or not that group of people and their plan to move in that space is going to be realistic or achievable. And then the [fourth] thing they’re evaluating has to do with the team. ‘Is this the right team that has the background to make this happen?’ ”

The teams will also be part of the Trinity Venture Mentoring Program, which will be incorporated into the Stumberg competition for the first time this year.

“That mentoring program brings three mentors for each team to be able to mentor them during the course of their entire lifetime,” Martinez said. “We are using the Stumberg prize and the competition as a beta to sort of test that [mentoring] program and run that program, and then our hope is in a year to launch that program to every Trinity student, faculty, staff and alum.”

heARTful — led by first-years Nia Clements, Chryslyn Perkins and Bradley Sykes — is a nonprofit committed to providing people the opportunity to engage with art regardless of age or disability. Their goal is to make interactive art for local autism centers, schools and other facilities that provide resources for people with special needs. Currently, heARTful has a prototype design of one of their pieces: a marble maze of Van Gogh’s “A Starry Night.” heARTful will begin testing their prototype in April at the ARC of San Antonio and will continue this testing with a variety of groups in the summer.

“We’re gonna spend probably the majority of our summer just testing the prototype and hopefully the new piece. That way we can figure out what changes that need to be making just to ensure that every piece we make serves a specific purpose,” Perkins said. “So we want each piece to have a specific outcome, whether it’s improving motor skills or fostering self esteem and communication. So essentially these pieces aren’t just toys, they serve a purpose. We want to make sure we’re actually doing that and not just making a toy.”

heARTful received feedback from the judges at Tuesday’s competition.

“One of the judges was an artist, and she was actually one of the first artists that we’ve talked to,” Perkins said. “I’m an art major, but obviously I don’t have that kind of experience. She was giving us idea about making the piece more realistic. So our piece is ‘A Starry Night, and she said she wished you could see the texture more because we essentially just printed out a poster, so it’s flat. So she was like, one of the best things about Van Gogh was being able to see the texture in his paintings. We hadn’t thought about making sure the art itself is as accurate as possible while also making it interactive.”

Sophomores Estella Frausto, Victoria Shirey and Marlee Jackson founded La Escuela de Estella, a nonprofit that aims to organize formal music education for students in mariachi programs in San Antonio’s Southwest ISD in order to prepare them for higher education music programs.

“[The preparation for higher education looks like] going through the basic music theory fundamentals, because we don’t really get that as mariachi students. It’s more of like a learn-by-ear, so you don’t really get to do rhythm and stuff like that that you have to know,” Frausto said.

Frausto is a graduate of a Southwest ISD high school, so she used her story to pitch her team’s concept.

“When I came here to Trinity, the music environment was kind of different. It wasn’t as easy for me to transition from mariachi to classical music, and we want to help students be prepared to make that transition a little easier,” Frausto said. “The story is impactful. One of the biggest things that we got throughout the whole competition is that the story makes it. You can look at graphs and read out numbers, but why are you doing it is this biggest thing we were always asked.”

Martinez encouraged all students to think about entering the Stumberg competition.

“We really want Trinity students to see that here’s a place and an opportunity that they have to start something. It doesn’t matter what your major is, you can start as early as you literally came to campus in August to you’re a graduating senior and this is your last semester. This is really a great opportunity that if you want to start something,” Martinez said. “Our purpose is to encourage entrepreneurial learning and entrepreneurial engagement, and so this is just that part of the experience, and so we’re willing to commit lots of money to make that happen.”