IGNTE Student Team Wins First Prize in Auburn University’s Tiger Cage Pitch Competition


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The Auburn University student start-up team IGNITE won the university 2022 Tiger Cage Business Pitch Competition March 25, earning $25,000 in seed money.

Led by Jacob Cordero, Business Administration, and Emmett Deen, IT, IGNTE is a platform that gives organizations a way to deliver their sponsors’ ads on Twitch.

“One of the biggest challenges with our startup was taking the idea and refining it into a real-world application,” Cordero said. “Tiger Cage has helped us tremendously through this process and prepared us on our journey to securing funding.”

Presented by Auburn’s Herbert College of Commercethe final four teams, made up of students from Harbert College, Samuel Ginn College of Engineeringthe College of Agriculture and the liberal arts college, were given 10 minutes to present their ideas and 15 minutes for a question and answer session. The teams were quizzed by the judges on finances, market share, product availability, and more.

“While IGNTE was judged as the best team in the competition, every team that competed from the very start was exceptional. Narrowing the field from the initial 18 teams to eight and then to the final four was a difficult task,” said one of the judges, Ralph Runge, RSquare Consulting “Finding a separation between the top four teams today was almost impossible. They were all so good. We hope all teams will continue with their business planning processes and go-to-market efforts.

To support their business plans, the 2022 Tiger Cage competition provided seed money to all teams that made it to the bottom four, with two additional special prizes as well.

Second place and $12,000 in seed money went to The Best Roping Dummy led by Will Jordan, agricultural communications. The Best Roping Dummy is a self-contained team roping training system that reduces the need for live stock and improves trainability.

“Participating in the Tiger Cage was an amazing and rewarding experience,” said Jordan. “I’ve always been an entrepreneur, but this competition pushed me to hone my business and presentation skills. I encourage anyone with an idea to try this program; the work is worth the reward.

A tie for third place and a $15,000 split went to Toft by 2153 and Feature Finder.

Toft in 2153 – led by Jesse Stewart, software genius, studio art; Brooke Hopton-Jones, IT; and Sydney Pham, software engineer, is a game development studio specializing in next-generation cross-platform multiplayer games.

“The Tiger Cage competition helped me refine my thinking about business models and market strategies,” Stewart said. “Not only that, but the process allowed me to better identify a truly useful product and create a powerful story to help the audience understand it.”

Feature Finder, led by Zane Barbao, management and entrepreneurship, and Luke Matthews, professional flight, is a social music platform designed to revolutionize the entire music industry.

“If you want a way to take your life to the next level and radically formulate your business, enter the Tiger Cage Competition,” Barbao said. “I not only learned how to professionally build a business and pitch it to investors, but I also made invaluable connections with exceptional people who will always inspire me to give back. You know who you are. It was an absolute pleasure.

Two special prizes were also awarded. Best String Dummy was the recipient of the Thomas Walter Center for Technology Management special prize in the amount of $4,000 which will be used for hardware prototyping. IGNTE was the recipient of the Strawberry and Forman in-kind award for legal services in the amount of $5,000.

The final round judges were Dabsey Maxwell, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer, Progress Bank; Teresa Vick, Senior Vice President, Regions; Ralph Runge, RSquare Consulting Inc.; Mark Mettelman, co-founder, Triad Advisors; Matt Kemph, In-Q-Tel; Tim Denison, President, GDI LLC; Ben Finley, Founder, The Finley Group; Dennis Weese, president, West Point Optical Group; Mark Esposito, President, Esposito Global; Richard Sesek, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering; and Dan O’Leary, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

Opening the finale was Mark Forchette ’81 Marketing, the President and CEO of Delphinus Medical Technologies. As a member of the Harbert College of Business Advisory Board, Mark was instrumental in the creation of the Tiger Cage pitch competition, which has now completed its eighth year.

In fact, Tiger Cage was born out of Mark’s own entrepreneurial experiences and a deep belief that Auburn must continually put in place special initiatives that will prepare its graduates for the entrepreneurial world they will face.

“Tiger Cage was a concept I launched at the Deans’ Advisory Council meeting in 2014 because I recognized from my Silicon Valley start-up experience that the skills you need in as an entrepreneur are unique and require intense development,” said Forchette. “I felt it was essential to intensify our training for students on the best entrepreneurial processes so that they would be ready for the world they would compete in after graduation.”

“After witnessing today’s competition, it’s clear that Lou Bifano, Director of Entrepreneurship at Harbert College, and his team of seasoned entrepreneurs in residence took my initial concept and took it forward. at full speed. Tiger Cage is now a vital part of Auburn’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and produces exceptional entrepreneurs with unique Auburn authenticity and flavor.

“Looking back on eight years of Tiger Cage, I’m very proud that the competition has stayed true to the beliefs that Mark anchored us to at the start,” Bifano said. “We remain committed to its goal of having a multi-faceted entrepreneurial approach that enhances our students’ skills in starting a new business, presenting a new project for approval in an existing business, developing students’ written and verbal communication skills, improve their ability to work in interdisciplinary teams and help them build and develop their professional networks.

Information on next year’s Tiger Cage business pitch competition, as well as the range of services provided by Auburn’s New business acceleratoris available by contacting Bifano at [email protected]


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