By: Gabriel Donahue, News Editor
Everybody Eats, a food truck venture by three Towson University students, won $10,000 at Tuesday’s second annual College Cup Innovation Challenge.
Founders Jared Hamlin, Bryce Carter and Bruno Verdonk were one set of seven finalists to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges for the $10,000 prize and an invitation to spend an eight-week residency at the StarTUp Summer Accelerator.
“All the hard work we did—it’s showing right now,” Verdonk said. “It’s been a whole trial and tribulations this whole time. Me and my team, we stick through it. We made some sacrifices, and the hard work has paid off. We’re just more than happy right now.”
Everybody Eats provides late-night, affordable food options close to college campuses. They hope to partner directly with Towson dining services within two years, according to their presentation.
In their first nine days of operation, they made 120 individual sales and made close to $800 in revenue, they said.
They said they would donate 10% of the profits to community outreach programs and provide free meals weekly for those in need to address local food insecurity.
“We really thought [Everybody Eats] had a great business model, they have the potential, they have a lot of traction, we like the community-giving-back aspect, and they really had a great plan in mind,” Edna Primrose, president of the Towson University Foundation Board of Directors, said.
Primrose sat on the judge’s panel alongside Brendan Logan, chief operating officer of SharpRank and StarTUp alumni Conrad Brake and Ryan Rutkowsk, the co-founders of Let’s Tap In LLC.
The other finalists included Healed by Creation, a nonprofit dedicated to using art to improve mental health; Misplaced, a digital lost and found; and Soulé Nail Artistry LLC, led by a nail technician who hopes to transform quality, equality and style within the nail industry.
Also presenting was Clean Lives, selling an attachment for automatic toilet flushers reminding users to wash their hands; Universal Dance Apparel, an online store for race-, gender- and weight-inclusive dancewear; and Mindful Movements, a 501(c)(3) using free outdoor retreats to encourage mindfulness.
“I will tell you all of the presentations were amazing,” Primrose said. “All seven were fantastic, and we look forward to seeing the other six thrive.”
The finalists who did not win the grand prize were awarded $1,000 each.
The Challenge started with 24 ventures in March, according to Patrick McQuown, executive director of entrepreneurship. McQuown said Tuesday’s event “exceeded expectations” since the first.
“We got more than double the amount of applications,” he said. “Of the seven [finalists], six already had traction. They had users, and they had revenue … We know that the quality and quantity increased significantly over the first one.”
The inaugural Challenge saw Towson senior Lydia Abraham win the grand prize for her all-natural tea business EriTea, The Towerlight reported.