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E - Challenge winner receives $18,000

By Alexander Armani-Munn
On March 8, 2012

  • Judges for the Monfort College of Business’ Entrepreneurial Challenge announce the first, second and third place start-up businesses during the Bravo! Entrepreneur Awards Thursday. Eduardo Rodriguez
The three best start-up businesses were awarded $36,000 during the UNC Monfort College of Business' third annual Entrepreneurial Challenge Thursday.
 
The top start-up business of this year's challenge was Bedside Solutions, which helped John O'Leary and Jamie Alexander receive $18,000.
Second place and $10,000 was awarded to Matt Fater and Aaron Fodge of Branch Out Cider.
 
Third place honors and $8,000 went to Josh Galindo, Justin Wheat, Cody Mylander and Mike Schreiner of FirstLine Safety.
 
Other finalists included Bruce Shannon with Lockers On Wheels and Brad Henderson, Luis Munoz and Phillip Horning, University of Northern Colorado students, with UNC Ride Away. 
 
The Monfort College of Business received more than 50 entries for the annual challenge. The field narrowed to 17 semifinalists before five finalists were selected. 
 
The five finalists had half an hour to present their products to a panel of judges Thursday afternoon at the University Center. 
 
The judging panel included Greg Moss, an anchor and business reporter with 9 News, Corkie Odell, the human resources manager for Odell Brewing Company, and Brad Cheedle, the CEO of Stealth Advisory Service International.
 
The concept of FirstLine Safety, the third-place recipient, was born from a traumatic experience Galindo had when a co-worker was injured on the job at an oilrig
 
It took two hours for emergency response to arrive at the oilrig to treat Galindo's worker. Galindo recognized the inherent danger that existed on oil and gas fields and believed response to medical emergencies on the worksite needed to be quicker. 
 
Galindo said he wanted to build something that could store medical supply and act as a small treatment facility on the workplace. He brought his idea to Wheat and Mylander, a senior business administration major at UNC. The trio joined forces with 2011 UNC graduate Mike Schreiner to develop the FirstLine Safety trailer.
 
The group intends to use the $8,000 award to cover the costs of building the first trailer.
 
The future is bright for the young entrepreneurs, whose idea judge Moss described as having "billion-dollar" potential. The group is currently targeting oil companies for their product but would like to expand in the future.
 
"We would like to adapt the trailer to different types of environments," Schreiner said.
 
The idea for Branch Out Cider, the second place recipients, came to Fodge when he recognized an apple tree in his neighbor's backyard that had yielded many apples. 
 
Fodge approached his neighbor and asked what his intentions were for the apples. The neighbor claimed he only wanted five apples for a pie and told Fodge he was welcome to the rest.  Fodge took the remaining apples and began pressing cider in his front yard with Fater
 
The men quickly realized they had easy access to apples they could use to produce a delicious wine. Today, the men pick apples from the trees of contributing community members in Greeley, Loveland and Fort Collins, which they then press into wine that is sold back to the contributors at a discounted rate before being made available to the community.
 
"The apple wine is gluten-free, a local product and creates a unique collaborative (with community members)," Fodge said. "We don't own an orchard. The challenge was a good opportunity for us to craft our business plan."
 
The $10,000  reward money will cover nearly two years of operation costs for Branch Out Brewery.
First-place winner Bedside Solutions, the brainchild of Alexander and O'Leary, specializes in making and selling medical products that improve direct patient care. 
The companies pioneering product is the "O2ooL" — pronounced "otool." The O2ooL is a product that positions a nasal cannula on the mouth for low-flow oxygen delivery. 
 
The device assists patients who are unable to breathe through their noses and instead breathe through mouths. 
 
O'Leary recognized the need for this product while working nights as a nurse at Poudre Valley Hospital. 
 
O'Leary approached his sister, Alexander, who was a graduate student at the time. Alexander took over the business side of Bedside Solutions and left the development to O'Leary.
 
The partners would like to develop a greater range of products in the future. 
"This is the tip of the iceberg," Alexander said. 
 
Alexander and O'Leary said they intend on using the $18,000 for marketing. 

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