Five Stumberg finalists to compete for $25,000 grand prize in fall

The five teams were selected after a seed round competition

The seed round of the Stumberg New Venture Competition, a chance for 10 student teams to win funding for their startup, was held virtually last Monday. Five teams received $5,000 investments and advanced to the 10-week phase of the competition known as the “Summer Accelerator” phase, where they will get to develop their project further. These finalists were Commuv, MicroLev, New Works SA, Notch Esports Suppliers and Wakescoot. During the summer, these students will live on-campus with a $4,000 stipend. Come fall, the finalists will be competing for the $25,000 grand prize.

The program will be distributing a total of $115,000 in cash awards this year, with $25,000 going to the winners of the grand prize. The competition, established seven years ago, is open to all Trinity students no matter their major or year. Students are able to begin nonprofit or for-profit ventures through the program. Since the founding of the program, 32 student-founded ventures have been launched.

Luis Martínez, Director for Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and adjunct professor of Chemistry, shared the adjustments made to the competition due to COVID-19.

“Modifying the competition to a virtual competition was the largest adjustment we made. Thankfully, we had the incredible support of Trinity’s Strategic Communication and Marketing team and the experience from last year’s Seed and Finals rounds to guide us,” Martinez said.

Martínez said that a common misconception about the Stumberg competition is that it’s solely for those interested in making money.

“If you’re a Trinity student with a big idea that you’re ready to build or a change you want to make in the world, Trinity’s Stumberg Competition will provide the education, training, advice, mentoring, network and money to make it a reality. We’re taking applications for next year’s cohort in November and are happy to work with anyone to get ready,” Martinez said.

George Wiggam, junior accounting major and founder of Notch Esports Suppliers, said that his company idea stemmed from a conversation with an ITS member.

“The school provided me with a laptop because I did not have a laptop at Trinity or back home in Ohio. When meeting with ITS, while waiting for the laptop to finish setting up, we were talking about computers and I talked to him about how one of my hobbies is building PCs. From there, we started talking about esports, and he told me he was trying to bring up the idea to start an esports team at Trinity and asked my opinion on some gaming computer manufacturers,” Wiggam said.

Wiggam cited his growing interest in esports as the reason he decided to bring his idea to life.

“I already knew that PC manufacturers usually have high mark-up prices, and many individual buyers like myself tend to build the computers themselves in order to save money. I knew that the growing interest in esports in education would be a great opportunity to start a business. From there, my business has evolved from just supply computers and equipment to full esports program development services,” Wiggam said.

Of the five companies, Notch Esports Suppliers is the only company to have one team member.

“Eventually, I did find teammates, but unfortunately, they did not want to pursue the project after the [entrepreneurship] course had ended. It has definitely been difficult working alone, and I have been looking for teammates to help bring this project to market. I currently have one teammate that I have connected with in my second entrepreneurship course; we have been working together this semester and will hopefully continue over the summer,” Wiggam said.

Wren Ramos, sophomore and one of three students that founded New Works SA, said that working with Scarlett Patiño ‘23 and Anthony Tresca ‘22 has proved fruitful. Ramos wanted to clarify that they are a trans person who uses they/them pronouns.

“Each of us brought our unique skills to be able to pull off all that we have accomplished. Scarlett’s business & theatre major experience is why she became our COO & CFO. She knows the money and makes sure we stay on track. Anthony brings their background in theatre & political science. He knows how to fundraise & find grants, something invaluable for a nonprofit. Together our theatre experience combined is nearly 27 years,” said Ramos.

New Works SA was founded because the trio felt there was a need to create a platform for young playwrights.

“We wanted to give back the opportunities we had been given to students like us with a passion for theatre — people who otherwise may be unable to find or afford the resources to pursue what they love. So we started New Works SA — a theatre non-profit dedicated to providing performance opportunities & education in theatre for students in underserved communities around San Antonio, helping them learn to express & empower themselves as artists,” said Ramos.