A graduate student’s idea for a company that automates testing in the chemical industry won the $15,000 top prize in the 10th annual EnterPrize competition put on by Clemson University’s MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MBAe) program.
Woody Grant of Greenville presented his concept for Covalent Innovations on Thursday, June 2, 2022, to a panel of judges in the finals of the Shark Tank-style competition. Grant, a chemist who has worked in the chemical titration industry for the last decade, collaborated with a team of industry professionals to customize software to automate the titration process.
Titration is a method for measuring the concentration of a substance in a solution. It sometimes is done by chemists visually comparing the color of mixed solutions to a test strip with colors corresponding to known concentrations. That visual method can result in varied results, Grant said.
Covalent Innovations’ automated process means “you hit a start button and it looks exactly the same way each time,” Grant said.
Grant’s proposal was judged to be the best out of 36 EnterPrize entries.
“Since its inception 10 years ago, our MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation program has helped produce scores of successful startups, generating millions of dollars in sales while employing hundreds of people in this community and beyond,” said Greg Pickett, director of the MBA program. “We truly believe we are an integral part of the innovation ecosystem in Greenville.
“The EnterPrize competition is a capstone course for our students and is a wonderful experience that highlights businesses they have been working to launch over the course of their MBAe studies,” he said.
In addition to the final event in Greenville, there were preliminary events in Charleston and Columbia, with the first-place winners taking $1,500. Ely Manzano won the Charleston event, and Maxwell Ames and Jessica Hobbs tied with Annel Greene to win in Columbia.
Each entrant had three minutes to pitch their concept, and the top five were brought back to answer questions from the judges, who included Shontavia Johnson, Clemson associate vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation; Clemson MBAe alumni and previous EnterPrize participants Agu Onwuamaeze, Leigh Ann Miller, owner of PinkBee GVL; Brian Stearns of RingoFire in Greenville; and Carmen Beckwith, MBA graduate and chief financial officer for Venture Capital.
“The MBAe Program has been recognized as one of the top MBA entrepreneurship programs in the country by The Princeton Review, which ranked it 27th best in the country,” Pickett said. “This ranking suggests that the curriculum is delivering relevant content to support innovative thought and practice for our graduates.”