Tulsa StartUp – Past Winners
A brief look back at past StartUp winners, their winning entries and their takeaways from the contest.
This maker of superfood smoothie drinks won the top prize in the 2014 competition. Founders Amy Murray, Piper Kacere and Rich Kacere found the coaching to be one of the most valuable elements of the competition.
Currently, the trio own Tulsa’s first upscale drink café and offer nutrient-dense, plant based drinks made from fresh organic whole fruits and vegetables without added sugars, yogurts or ice cream. The superfood smoothie blends are their response to the fast food craze.
Brett and Kristi Richison finished second in the competition with a product that could revolutionize the fencing industry. FenceTrac is a maintenance-free privacy fence using a U-Channel design that simplifies picket installation and creates a fence that resists warping. “The critiques from the pitch sessions helped up drill down into our business model, Kristi Richison said.
Fuseman’s Joel Vogt finished third in the 2014 competition and received $2,500. Fuseman Safety Stick is a new patent-pending tool designed to safely remove and replace plug fuses in old style fuse panels. The Safety Stick is a three-in-one tool, with a built in flashlight to locate a blown fuse, a fuse puller to safely remove and replace a fuse and a storage caddy to store new fuses. “The coaching part of this process enlightened me as to the fact that there are people out there that are actually interested in helping you. It was a great experience,” Vogt said.
The 2014 Spirit of Innovation Award went to Stephen Clayman of OP Left. Clayman is a former Marine who saw a need for map reading tools while serving in Afghanistan. Clayman founded OP Left, a veteran-owned company that makes specialty, precision-cut acrylic measurement tools for use on U.S. and NATO military maps not currently available in the field.
Founded by Michael Tate, Aaron Laney and Matt Villarreal while the three were students at Oklahoma State University, CleanNG claimed the top prize in the 2013 competition for the invention and manufacture of its MagnumCel. The company is located in Tulsa with a focus on manufacturing and marketing next generation fuel storage and delivery systems for natural gas vehicles (NGVs). CleanNG developed the MagnumCel, a liner-less composite fuel storage system for natural gas vehicles. It can also store a variety of other gases including helium, hydrogen, and oxygen.
Adam Teague and Tim Paslay took second place in the 2013 competition with their start-up company that makes unique men’s clothing accessories in the Tulsa metro area. Two Guys Bow Ties has reinvented the classic bow tie starting with handcrafted wooden bow ties made from a variety of exotic hardwoods and expanded its products to include hand painted and wooden inlaid bow ties. Since the StartUp Cup competition, the company has enjoyed national media attention including Shark Tank, MTAV, NBA and others, and launched new lines of products including wooden lapel flowers, wood-brimmed fedoras, kids’ bow ties and beard care products.
Andrew Jenkins and Clint Donaldson came in third place with a modern multi-use portable cooler and air conditioner that keeps beverages and people cool. The company now offers several options of portable coolers that can be used for camping trips, sporting events or a variety of other summer activities. Since its successful performance in StartUp, IcyBreeze has been recognized by 50 Campfires with a 2014 Gear of the Year Award and made the list of “coolest products” in USA Today, Sky Mall, Buzz Feed and Westword News.
Corey Carolina and the Carolina food Company took home the Spirit of Innovation Award for its Toasted Wine Fruit Spreads. Made with natural ingredients, including real fruit and alcohol, the products have made their way to a variety of natural foods markets, grocery stores, wineries and food boutiques throughout Oklahoma. “All of my coaches provided great feedback and detail,” Carolina said. “I really appreciate them and the judges.”
Roger Shollmier, founder of The Galley, LLC, took first place in the 2012 StartUp competition. A completely new idea in kitchen design, The Galley subsequently sold to a Tulsa investor who launched the product on a national scale.
This forward-thinking sales app, designed by Mike Ishmael, Brian Carpenter and Doug Tatum of 4D Sales, took the iPad sales presentation to new levels and earned the trio second place in the 2012 competition. Currently, the company is taking their patent-pending technology into new territories across the United States.
Paula Sloan, founder and owner of Cheerful Athletics, took third place in 2012 for her invention The Fly Right, a patented cheerleading training device that provides a safe method of practicing cheerleading stunts. Sloan has since sold a licensing agreement for The Fly Right.
Entrepreneur Jan Laub introduced Granny’s Good Ol’ Fashion Bacon Drippings to Tulsa’s StartUp community in 2011. Her Twin foods, Inc. came in second that year, but she has since introduced bacon drippings to grocery stores throughout the area. Her website has also become a repository of recipes submitted by foodies devoted to Granny’s Good Ol’ Fashion Bacon Drippings.