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Stony Brook Students Are Tops in Entrepreneur Challenge

Ethan Doutney of Dune Fishery won first place at the State Finals in the Agriculture, Technology and Food category.

The Stony Brook Entrepreneur Challenge is held annually in the spring, and provides SBU student entrepreneurs with an opportunity to win a share of $50,000 to help cover start-up costs for their businesses. Students pitch their ideas in person to a panel of experienced venture funders, entrepreneurs and business services professionals.

But this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 12 student teams presented their business technologies via Zoom. The highest ranked teams then moved on to the Regional Competition for a chance to receive additional funding. All four Stony Brook teams that competed in the Regional Competition in April advanced to the New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC) — New York’s statewide intercollegiate business plan competition — at the end of May, and two of those teams placed (see results below). 

Ethan Doutney of Dune Fishery won first place at the State Finals in the Agriculture, Technology and Food category.
Ethan Doutney of Dune Fishery won first place at the NYBPC in the AgTech and Food category.

During the past 14 years, the Stony Brook Entrepreneur Challenge has awarded almost half a million dollars to young entrepreneurs. Participating students can be matriculating in any program at any level to qualify to compete.

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) located the Stony Brook campus has played a major role in preparing the competitors by providing free professional business advisement on how to create concise, professional and persuasive business plans, allowing the students to excel in presenting their technology. 

“Every year the SBDC demonstrates how passionate, ambitious and resourceful our student entrepreneurs are in starting and launching their businesses,” said Michael Chiang, SBDC Advisor and Entrepreneur-in-Residence. He went on to say that due to the sudden onset of the virus and unexpected change in format, “the student entrepreneurs exhibited quite possibly the two most important characteristics of any successful entrepreneur — perseverance and the ability to move quickly when opportunity presents itself.”

How the Funding Works

Prizes awarded are in the form of funds that will apply toward the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program, which provides support related to customer discovery, technology development, infrastructure, advice, resources, networking opportunities and training. The I-Corps program nurtures and supports students to transition their ideas, devices, processes or other intellectual activities into the marketplace or into becoming I-Corps Team applicants. This program seeks to develop and nurture a national innovation ecosystem that builds upon research to guide the output of scientific discoveries closer to the development of technologies, products and processes that benefit society.

Stony Brook Entrepreneur Challenge Competition Winners

First Place
Eos Technologies (sustainable solar solutions) was awarded $30,000

Second Place
Ripple Band (wearable device to prevent viral transmission) and Scrap-It (an online platform connecting consumers with junk haulers) were awarded $10,000 each

Four SBU Regional Competition Winners Advanced to the NYBPC

Eos Technologies
Ripple Band
Dune Fishery (Blue Point oyster farm)
Zugar (chocolates without sugar)

Two SBU Teams Placed at the NYBPC

At the NYBPC at the end of May, Ethan Doutney of Dune Fishery was awarded $2,000 for placing first in the AgTech and Food category. Doutney just graduated from Stony Brook University with a Bachelors in Business Management and a focus in Finance, starting his oyster farm while at SBU. After winning second place in Stony Brook’s Wolfie Tank competition, SBDC Business Advisor Bob Harrison encouraged him to compete in the Entrepreneur Challenge. Doutney was born and raised in Patchogue, NY, working as a clamdigger in the Great South Bay as a teenager. When it was announced that the Town of Islip was beginning to lease bay bottom acreage for shellfish aquaculture, Doutney put his name on the list and eventually was given a lease.

Matthew Mullin and Vincent Peetz of EOS Technologies were awarded $500 for third place in the Energy and Environment category. Mullin is a rising senior studying Mechanical Engineering. He was a project leader for the 2018 SBU iGEM team, vice president for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SBU Chapter, and project leader and current vice president of Centriseed Innovations at SBU. Through his club involvement, he started a team for the Global Space Balloon Challenge, and after working on the project, he realized he could adapt the technology and create a start-up.

For more information about the Stony Brook Entrepreneur Challenge, visit the SBDC website

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