Would-be entrepreneurs tried to sell a panel of judges their agriculturally based ideas to make money in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ first “FABricate” competition, designed to encourage entrepreneurship.
The students’ ideas as they competed for $1,000 prizes in the recent event ranged from the fundamental, like the duo who saw an unfilled market niche they could occupy with a small-scale indoor farm, to the high-tech, like Jesse Lafian’s “Reservoir” company, built on the premise that careful monitoring of soil moisture could help save landscaping companies money by reducing the shockingly high mortality rate of newly planted trees because of overwatering.
Britta Thinguldstad, Rachael Detweiler and Haley Gilleland brought an idea that the panel of judges in UGA’s Tate Student Center Theater could really sink their teeth into -- hot samples of their Asian Sausage with Rice and Vegetables, which they thought they could market as a meal-in-a-sausage for college students and others on the go.
The three UGA animal science majors had gotten overwhelmingly positive responses to their product when they gave consumers free samples and asked them how they liked it. The judges agreed with their taste-test results, but questioned them, as they did other contestants, on things like how they planned to market the product, where they’d sell it, and whether they could get customers to pay their projected price of about $10.50 for a four-link pack.
Other contestants brought ideas such as a vehicle that would not only be a moveable herb garden and market, but an educational center that could travel to local schools and other events, and a device that could help researchers trying to develop more shade-tolerant turf.
Most of the contesting teams, including the Asian sausage team, were winners in their categories Wednesday night -- in three of the four categories, there was only one entry in this first year for the competition.
The judges picked Lafian’s “Reservoir” company as their top overall winner, but when people in the audience went to their mobile devices to vote for a “people’s choice” winner, another top dog emerged - Lizzy Isgar’s and Antonio Rodriguez’s “Fresco,” a phone app that makes reservation and checks wait times at participating restaurants -- “the fastest way to dine in Athens, Ga.,” they billed it.
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