Grand prize winning students holding a large check showing $10,000 cash prize

Eleven teams pitched their ideas to improve the world at Seattle Pacific University’s 18th annual Social Venture Plan Competition Showcase on Thursday, April 18. The social ventures reflected the issues that are on the hearts and minds of college students today from homelessness in Guatemala to education in Laos. The students pitched everything from sustainable phone chargers powered by movement to holding politicians accountable through data science.

The Showcase event — the finale of the annual SVPC — saw Freya Maternity win the $10,000 Herbert B. Jones Grand Prize. Nearly 60 judges representing the business, non-profit, academic, and professional communities evaluated the students’ social venture plans.

Over the course of the day, several hundred students, faculty, staff, and community members visited the Showcase and voted for their favorite project. The Donald B. Summers People’s Choice award of $1,500 went to The Village, a project that sought to match first-generation college students to be mentors to high students who are potential first-gen college students.

The grand prize winner, Freya Maternity, birthed a fresh approach to maternity clothing, proposing an e-commerce rental service that provides pregnant women stylish and sustainable options as a convenient alternative to traditional one-time purchases. Maternity wear is more likely to be disposed of and wind up in landfills since it’s clothing for a temporary time. The Freya Maternity team included senior business administration majors Ava Dreon, Shawn Bowen, and Lauren Duisenberg; senior business administration and accounting double major Canyon Farmer; junior business administration major Amelia Perez; and junior global development and economics double major Haley Blain.

Deploy-A-Pad placed second in the competition, winning a $5,000 runner-up award. With climate change increasing the frequency of tsunamis, floods, and tropical storms, the need for temporary shelter has never been higher. Deploy-A-Pad proposed a better form of temporary shelter after natural disasters.

The team developed a small, portable shelter that offers electricity and water and is designed for short- to medium-term use. The group proposed selling the product to FEMA and other government agencies but would also make the shelter available to consumers interested in off-grid living.

Deploy-A-Pad consisted of senior Thomas Morton, double majoring in mechanical engineering and appropriate and sustainable engineering; senior Valentino Guevara, a senior mechanical engineering major; and Cynthia Nguyen, a senior triple majoring in applied mathematics, financial economics, and honors liberal arts.

Three honorable mentions won prizes of $2,500:

  • Substance abuse is on the rise, and relapse rates for those in recovery hover around 50%, even for those with access to treatment. Intentions developed a mobile app to allow those recovering from substance abuse to receive tailored messages of encouragement, while also keeping them intentionally connected to their friends, family, and support systems. Intentions was the work of senior computer science major Houston Tu and Arian Salehpour, a senior double majoring in computer science and applied math.
  • Dangerous opioids such as fentanyl can leave residue in public places such as classrooms, airports, and Metro buses. Only a small dose can be lethal. OPIO crafted a cleaning product that will neutralize opioid drug residue, making public transit, and other public spaces safer. OPIO was the work of senior business administration major Drew Swanson.
  • The Village recognized that first-generation college students face barriers to higher education. They need information on college processes, financial aid, how to find role models, and how to secure employment. Through a dedicated web platform, peer mentoring, and a jobs board, The Village hopes to increase the success rate of first-generation college students in the Seattle area and beyond. The Village business plan was written and presented by Viktoriya Prozapas, a senior double majoring in accounting and business administration; Johnny Lo, a junior business administration major; Xavier Smith, a junior economics major; Madison Raines, a junior social justice and cultural studies major; and Emilio Tolomei, a first-year business administration major.

In the first round of the competition, community partners read, reviewed, and scored 20 written business plans, representing nearly 80 students from four different schools.

Prior to the Showcase event, students participated in a series of seminars on the basics of writing a business plan as well as attended coaching sessions with knowledgeable businesspeople, non-profit executives, and others. In all, more than 100 community volunteers gave time as readers, instructors, coaches, and judges.

Scott Hardman, a local investment banker, said Freya Maternity was his top choice because of the creativity of the plan and how well the team had thought through the business. Hardman, a multi-year volunteer judge for the SVPC, said, “I spread my votes out to include several others, but Freya was outstanding.”

Local businesswoman and returning judge Joan O’Brien said, “It truly gives me faith that the future is in good hands when I talk to these smart, enthusiastic graduating seniors with so many wonderful ideas. I know they’ll make the world a better place!”

Financial sponsors of the SVPC include the Herbert B. Jones Foundation, the Scott and Kathleen Cummins Family Foundation, Tschetter Group, Northwest Center, Highland Private Wealth Management, Pioneer Human Services, and Skills, Inc.

The competition is organized by the Center for Applied Learning in the School of Business, Government, and Economics at SPU.

Related articles

Social Venture Plan Competition

students from team Nemo Institute hold Grand Prize check for $5,000
SPU hosts 17th annual Social Venture Plan Competition

What can the Center for Applied Learning offer SPU students?

Lemon Balm product design by Claire Conway
Arts & Culture
Student visual communication design