Gustie Cup Doubles in Size and Prize Money

The competition creates space for Gustavus students to dream their innovative ideas into action. The 2017 Cup takes place Saturday, May 13.
Posted on May 11th, 2017 by

Gustavus professor Marta Podemska-Mikluch talks with Parker Tinsley ’17 and George Buchner ’17 about their eye-opening idea: a coffee vending machine hooked up to an ordering app.

It’s only in its third year but already the Gustie Entrepreneur Cup—the College’s student entrepreneur competition—has doubled in interest and prize money.

This year, student teams from across campus will present their best new business ideas to Gustie alum judges. First place will receive $5,000 and automatically advance to the student division of the Minnesota Cup. (Gustavus is one of only two colleges with a direct line to the state’s competition.) Second- and third-place winners share an additional $5,000.

The growth in student enthusiasm is no surprise to Cup co-director Marta Podemska-Mikluch, who is also the Marcia Page and John Huepenbecker Endowed Professor Professor in Entrepreneurship. “Gusties are exceptional, inventive collaborators,” she says. Last year, when the competition opened up beyond her advanced management class, “We had teams with someone from computer science, someone from biology—there has been so much interdisciplinary collaboration.”

The big surprise, she says, is the amount of alumni engagement with the Cup. “I have been floored by how much support we have received. We have about 50 alumni who judge, coach, speak, and support the Cup financially. It’s amazing how many commit their time.”

Ari Silkey ’99, general manager and executive lead for the transportation technology group for Amazon, has been a coach and a judge of the Gustie Cup from its start. “It’s less about winning and more about making a plan around a business,” Silkey says. “It’s about thinking about the world outside of college, about new business ideas. It’s refreshing and enlightening.”

Last year’s winner, JonCarlo Westerlund ’17, used the prize to rent an office and pitch investors on his idea (a platform to pair outdoors enthusiasts with resorts and guides). But he says the real prize was the guidance and feedback from alums. “The great thing about the Gustie Cup is the network that it brings. You hear about the Gustie network a lot, and the Cup opened me up to it—to people who are on my side.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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