Live Pitches: Wednesday, November 8, 2023
Doors Open: 5:30 pm
Event Starts: 5:45 pm
Location: Jabs Hall 111

This competition was open to all Montana State University students (undergraduate and graduate) and will feature $10,000 in prize awards.  All Ideas were welcome, including but not limited to new products, services, non-profit ventures, and social impact focus.

Your 2023 Winners:

General Category: 

  • First Place: Zest Eco-Ropes — Kenzie O'Neil and Nicole Matuszynski take recycled climbing ropes and turn them into belts and other items. 
  • Second Place: Artimis — Jesse Cook uses artificial intelligence to help businesses innovate and save money. 
  • Third Place: 1-Up Jewelry — Matthew Manning purchases old jewelry and refurbishes or alters it before selling it on commission at local businesses. 

Health and Life Science: 

  • First Place: Flexsense — Lexia Dauenhauer and Kaylan Wait designed a device to help people rehab their knees. 
  • Second Place: Get Home Safe Project — Andrew McClure and Jack Preedy are developing safety stations and a rapid test for fentanyl and date rape drugs. 
  • Third Place: H-Brace — Michael Schwarz is developing a brace to help rock climbers recover from a common finger injury. 

Social and Climate Impact: 

  • First Place: English Para Todos — Kass Thompson offers affordable and accessible English classes for adults in the Gallatin Valley. 
  • Second Place: Niitsitapi Campground — Taylee Rides At The Door is developing a campground and a community center for people to learn Native traditions. 
  • Third Place: EcoFill — Melia Swirsky designed sustainable stations that allow consumers to refill bottles of household items, like laundry detergent and shampoo, at grocery stores. 

Consumer Products and Services: 

  • First Place: Montana Bachelorette Adventures — Kirsten Hansen operates a luxury trip planning service targeted to bachelorette parties. 
  • Second Place: Pack-Right — Hayden Rowland works with adventure travel companies to help guests find the proper gear. 
  • Third Place: Xove — Kaidan Staskowski is developing a dating app platform that performs background checks and ID verifications. 

Your 2023 Judges:

Jake Jabs is an MSU alum and the CEO of American Furniture Warehouse based in Denver, one of the largest retail furniture companies in the United States. The fourth of nine children, Jake grew up a farm near Lodge Grass, Mont., in a home with no indoor plumbing, electricity or running water. He credits his family for providing him a strong work ethic, a sense of family and a love of music. The self-taught businessman credits his success to “hard work, long hours, self-confidence, the courage to take risks, and the desire to give value and service to every customer." It is through his generosity that we have student scholarships, a professorship in Entrepreneurship, the Jabs Entrepreneurship Center and associated programs and the beautiful Jabs Hall, home of the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship.

Jackie Brookshire is President of American Furniture Warehouse. As Jake Jabs’ eldest daughter, she began her working career with AFW after high school and held a variety of roles throughout the organization before taking the job of AFW’s Human Resources Manager in the late 1980’s. Jackie left to start her own business with her husband in Colorado Springs and also worked in HR for defense contractor Lockheed Martin for a number of years until her return to AFW in as Vice President in 2014. As President, she helps oversee daily operations including HR, Marketing, Merchandising, IT and Financial, and buying, as well as special projects including strategic expansion initiatives and e-commerce expansion.

Ann Peterson is the Program Director for the Montana Innovation Partnership (MTIP) powered by MSU TechLink Center. MTIP works with investigators and small business founders competing for federal research and development funding through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) programs. Ann provides coaching on navigating proposal requirements, aligning tech with the missions of the participating federal agencies, and early commercialization plans for emerging technologies. Ann has over 15 years’ experience in high tech software sales, territory management, professional services management and industry partnerships.

Kristen Beveridge is an executive-level product design leader, creative thinker, experience strategist, innovator, and co-founder with a career that spans over 20 years at both startups and Fortune 500 companies. She began her career leading the design team on Ameritrade, the first online trading platform and she was a founding partner of BzzAgent, a word-of-mouth marketing platform. Kristen was also the brand, marketing, and design lead for Rapid Payer Response, a global pharmaceutical research platform that recently sold to Genesis Research. She has also led digital experience efforts for clients such as Volkswagen, Ralph Lauren, Proctor & Gamble, British Airways, Estée Lauder, Pfizer, Audible, Citibank, Komen, Razorfish, and Bono's Red, to name a few. Kristen studied at Carnegie Mellon University and at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Mark Kozubal was theco-founder and previous CSO, of Nature's Fynd, a company that develops microbe-based proteins for meat substitutes and dairy substitutes. In 2009, under a research permit and supported by the NSF and NASA, Mark was researching extremophiles in Yellowstone National Park where he collected samples from an acidic hot spring which led to the discovery of the microbe, Fusarium strain flavolapis. From there, Fynd’s co-founders discovered a breakthrough fermentation technology leading to a more sustainable food source. Mark has his Ph.D. from Montana State University.


Do you have questions or would like to schedule a meeting to discuss your ideas? 

Schedule a meeting: 

Contact the MSU LaunchPad: or 406-994-4383 or drop by the Launchpad in the Strand Union Building (SUB) room 251 

Past Events:



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