KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Minimizing time in front of the kitchen sink while leaving dishes sparkling clean is the purpose behind the winning business pitch at the Bronco Pitch Competition held in person on April 9 at Western Michigan University's Haworth College of Business. The Lux Scrub, an invention designed to clean dishes better than any sponge, scrub pad or dishwasher alone comes from the creative minds of a group of industrial and entrepreneurial engineering students.
The Bronco Pitch Competition is an opportunity for Western students to gauge their ideas as potential entrepreneurs. Participants submit their pitches for a chance to compete and receive prize money and valuable feedback from judges on how to further develop their ideas. This year, teams of local high school students also pitched their ideas for the fourth year in a row.
The team that presented the winning idea is made up of four Western students—Rachel Millett of Grand Rapids, Julia Haas of Marine City, Mandy Sorensen of Frankfort and Paige Roden of Napoleon. The Lux Scrub attaches to a kitchen sink faucet, housing a soap reservoir, retractable hose and rotating water turbine, and uses the water pressure from the sink to unite all features to wash dishes. Made of high-grade plastic, this attachment is meant to offer cost savings when compared to the buying frequency of dishwashing supplies for those without a dishwasher. The team’s presentation impressed the judges, and The Lux Scrub made a clean sweep of the competition.
“We spent hours preparing for the competition. After developing the idea through a lot of trial and error, we analyzed our competitors and adjusted the product to better fit our target market,” says Roden. “Next, we calculated production costs and the selling price—even forecasting sales for five years out to double-check the profitability of our business.”
Each team member contributed at all stages of product development, with some focusing on the minutiae. Millet, another team member, says, “I actually put a lot of time and research into plastic injection molding and how we could realistically create our product at a low cost.”
Teams are required to put their winning prize money toward their business. “Our team has been discussing using the funds to buy a 3D printer to create prototypes,” says Sorensen. “We have also considered patenting The Lux Scrub because we are that passionate about the product.”
2022 Top Teams
$5,000 in cash prizes were awarded to four teams at the end of the competition. The first-place finish by The Lux Scrub brought the team $2,000 to continue developing their business idea. Fellow competing teams of Western students received awards for second through fourth place:
- Second place and the People’s Choice Award went to Sportwatch, with $1,700 in prize money awarded to Seth Byrne, a WMU Haworth student, and Matt Loucks, a student at Saginaw Valley State University, both of Hemlock. Sportwatch is an app that maintains data on team rosters for high school cross country and track coaches, solving the tedious problem of coaches manually recording their student-athletes’ statistics on clipboards with pen and paper. The app is available now on the Google Play Store for Android devices and the App Store on iOS devices.
- Third place and $800 was granted to Grocery Guardian, comprised of team members Harley Seelbinder of Kalamazoo, Nathan Wenke of Kalamazoo and Alex Schmitt of Byron Center, who pitched the idea of a small camera that goes inside a refrigerator and records nonstop footage of people’s food. Those recordings are uploaded to an app that uses machine learning to recommend recipes to users with ingredients they have in their fridge—the mission being to reduce food waste.
- Fourth place was presented to T.E.G. Glasses, with team members Niko Kaltsas of Brighton, Mila Mitovski of Chesterfield, Kaden Jacobson of Lake City and Enock Barasa of Nairobi, Kenya with a $500 prize for their solution to foggy glasses. T.E.G. Glasses is an implement for frames that uses the difference in body heat and the surrounding air to generate electricity that counteracts condensation on glasses.
About The Competition
Students were invited to submit their prospective businesses to the competition, where they give a three-minute pitch on their idea to a panel of judges. Judges are sourced from WMU Haworth, other areas within the University and the local community of entrepreneurs, business owners and investors.
“The Bronco Pitch Competition provides an opportunity for students from all University disciplines to share their business ideas, or early business successes, with others in the University community,” says Dr. Laurel Ofstein, associate professor of management and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Haworth College of Business provides support for students interested in exploring entrepreneurship at any level. Find more information on the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.