Students had the chance to show off their entrepreneurial skills at the IdeaFame event Oct. 29 in the Maker Space of Adohi Hall.

The rules were simple: Participants had 60 seconds to pitch their business idea to the judges and audience without notes or slides. The judges selected one winner, and the audience voted for another, both of whom won $1,000.

The event began with Jeff Amerine, the founder and managing director of Startup Junkie, welcoming everyone and explaining the agenda for the evening. 

Amerine founded Startup Junkie because he wanted to empower innovators and entrepreneurs, he said.

Jeff Amerine, the founder and managing director of Startup Junkie

After the introduction, the participants each had 60 seconds to pitch to the audience. Many of the ideas were socially or environmentally conscious, including a meal share program for food-insecure students, a 100% acceptance-rate thrift store and a gasoline runoff prevention project. 

Participants had to register online by the deadline the night before, but there were three “wildcard” positions at the very end because “being an entrepreneur is all about taking qualified risks,” Amerine said. 

Audience members were so inspired by the evening that Amerine allowed for five wildcard pitches.

Audience members were asked to vote for the one candidate who they thought had the best idea. The judges went to a separate room to tally the People’s Choice winner and decide on the Judge’s Winner. 

“This year saw a fantastic group of participants with really great ideas,” Amerine said. “It was very difficult process for the judges.”

The winner of the Judge’s Choice Award was Carlos Díaz, a senior industrial engineering major at the university. 

His idea, “Glide Nano Eco-Friendly Ski Wax,” replaces environmentally harmful chemicals currently being used in ski wax that are bad for the environment with natural, biodegradable elements.

Díaz developed the ski wax at Surftec Engineering in collaboration with Glide Nano. He plans to use the $1,000 to buy parts for another project.

The winner of the People’s Choice Award was Kayden Hutchings, a student from Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWAAC), who Amerine called the “fish doctor.” Hutching’s idea was to make aquatic animals more available for purchase in Arkansas, which is currently difficult because it is a landlocked state.

Startup Junkie has been around for 11 years, and this is the 8th year of IdeaFame. This event has been run all across the south and Canada, Amerine said. 

There were 29 participants and about 100 people in the audience

“It restores your faith that there is a lot of creativity out there,” Amerine said.