Student Contestants Announced

Mar 19, 2021

UMD Startup Cup Entrepreneurship Competition to be held virtually on the evening of Wednesday, April 7.

Top from left: Madison Brenengen, Allyson Hilgeman, Zachariah Coughlin, Will Holz, John Rosas Ramirez, Dalton Scharmer

The event is free of charge and open to the public. More details and registration can be found here.

The UMD Startup Cup is a university-wide entrepreneurial competition in which finalist teams have the opportunity to pitch an existing business or idea to a panel of Minnesota business professionals (judges) for a chance to win scholarship money. This year Amy Ronneberg, CEO of Be The Match; Lili Hall, Founder and CEO of KNOCK inc.; and Rick Lampton, Duluth restaurateur will be judging the competition.

All the contestants are UMD students. Their names, along with their businesses or ideas and bios, are as follows:

1.) Madison Brenengen and Allyson Hilgeman, Travel Bug

Brenengen is studying Cultural Entrepreneurship and Spanish. She will be graduating in the fall of 2021 with plans to pursue work in the local tourism industry. Through different Cultural Entrepreneurship courses, she has learned how creative organizations can positively impact the growth of local economies.

 Hilgeman is majoring in Cultural Entrepreneurship with a minor in Psychology. She has traveled to Mexico to study the political, environmental, social, and economic effects of U.S. policy on women and children. Hilgeman has participated in business projects throughout her university career, which has taught her the value of world connectedness through product innovation and creation. She hopes to continue her studies after graduation in the summer of 2021.  

2.) Zachariah Coughlin, Four

Coughlin has been passionate about entrepreneurship for as long as he can remember. His entrepreneurial spirit has led him on many interesting endeavors, such as selling snacks from his middle school locker, pitching a diaper recycling process at a national innovation competition, and now, competing in the UMD Startup Cup. Coughlin will graduate in May 2022, with a double major in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science.

3.) Will Holz, Total Lawn

Holz is double majoring in Management and Finance and will graduate in the spring of 2022. His entrepreneurial spirit stems from his youth. His father owns a business and this has led to Holz starting and owning/operating his own business in his hometown of Byron, Minnesota. He looks forward to continuing to learn and grow his own business to use the newly acquired skills to better himself and others in his future personal/professional career.

4.) John Rosas Ramirez, Convivial Comics

Ramirez comes from a history of entrepreneurial practices, whether it was from his family past or his own. Raised by immigrants, the lessons of service, persistence, and support carry into his business ideals. He wishes to improve the lives of others through his work. Ramirez is currently studying Graphic Design and Marketing at UMD and planning to graduate in May 2021.

5.) Dalton Scharmer, Special Needs Product

Scharmer is a Civil Engineering major graduating in May 2021. He will be staying at UMD to get his Master's in Civil Engineering with a focus in bridge design. Scharmer enjoys reading about entrepreneurship, tax code, and personal finance. He is excited to use the UMD Startup Cup as an opportunity to combine his engineering background, passion for business, and extroverted personality to see how well he can pitch a product he has designed and built himself.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, one of the contestants will no longer be able to compete.

Additionally, the applicants/teams work with a mentor before the competition. Mentors help applicants prepare for the competition and provide guidance on furthering their existing businesses or ideas. This year’s mentors are Eric Faust, Janelle Jones, Dean Packingham, Tom Sega, Chris Swanson, and Tim White.

The competition is planned and executed by a student team. The 2021 directors are Katelyn Glaser, Bob Libal, Joel Martinez, Rachel Mummah, Ziggy Pha, and Mikena Senarighi