Approach Mobile, a mobile application development company created last summer by USD business marketing student Max Ball and a business partner friend, emerged as the big winner in the inaugural $15,000 V2 (Venture Vetting) Pitch Deck Entrepreneurship competition on April 12.
Ball (pictured, right) and Keyan Taji successfully presented their company to three angel investors — Andy Laats, Kathleen Parker and Hans Petersen (MBA alum) — to claim $7,500 of the total prize money available, beating out three other finalists in the event held at USD’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Theatre.
The remaining $7,500 was spread amongst the other USD student teams: Chase Yost and his Bottle Talk business, which connects consumers and winemakers via QR codes and other social media tools, collected $5,500 as the runner-up; Scoto, a company consisting of five USD MBA students, earned $1,000. Scoto has a mobile application to allow users to organize their online activity such as photos of QR codes, items for Pinterest, etc.; Venturely, an online networking platform developed by Gino Ferrand and Yannick Schindler to give college entrepreneurs a place to find resources needed to get their business idea launched, earned $1,000.
“I was extremely pleased with everything; I thought it went great,” said V2’s faculty leader, Mike Lawless, a USD entrepreneurship professor and advisor of USD’s Entrepreneurship Club about the V2 event. “I think the students did well and I think everyone learned a lot.”
All four groups gave 10-minute presentations to Laats, Parker and Petersen in the IPJ Theatre. The students then gave a series of one-on-one 10-minute presentations to each investor. When that concluded, the investors met to determine the prize amount.
The top prize for Approach Mobile adds to an already impressive resume. Ball and Taji’s company has secured $120,000 in mobile app development projects with clients such as Hertz and The Ken Blanchard Companies, a global leader in workplace learning, productivity, and leadership training solutions.
USD alumni Tom Breitling ‘91 and Lorenzo Fertitta ‘91, and Andy and Liz Laats provided the $15,000 prize money. Andy Laats is the co-founder of Nixon Watches.
Prior to the start of the April 12 competition, USD alumnus Stephan Aarstol ’99 (MBA) who owns and founded Pacific Beach-based Tower Paddle Boards, spoke about his entrepreneurial experiences and his March 16 appearance on ABC-TV’s entrepreneur pitch show, “Shark Tank.” Aarstol successfully made a deal with billionaire Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, who was on the show’s angel investor panel.
— Ryan T. Blystone
Photo courtesy of V2 Pitch Deck Competition