Derek Johnson, a student from Brigham Young University who invented a machine to produce kolaches pastries in mass, won the $40,000 grand prize in this year’s Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.
Johnson, the CEO/founder of Cowboy Kolaches, said the money will help him launch his business. “I’ll be able to bring my machine out of the prototype stage and move into full production in early fall,” he said. “Many bakeries are waiting for kolaches — now we’ll be able to deliver.”
Similar to a Danish, kolaches hail from the Czech Republic and are made with a sweet, yeasty dough that is topped with a fruit filling.
Currently, a bakery can only produce up to 90 kolaches an hour by hand. With Cowboy Kolaches’ machine, a bakery could produce up to 480 kolaches every 60 minutes, with a higher consistency and quality.
The Utah Entrepreneur Challenge was the third and final event in the Utah Entrepreneur Series, a student-run division of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute and the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah.
Doxy.me, a company with a free tool for telemedicine, led the teams from the University of Utah, bringing home $5,000 for the Best Written Business Plan. They have a tool for providing health consultations online using video conferencing.
“Doxy.me is currently being used in a clinical study at the University of Utah in low-risk prenatal care,” said Josh Hadley, an MBA student and Doxy.me team member. “We’ve received great feedback from physicians and patients. There are always ways to improve to better meet the needs of patients and physicians. The $5,000 will allow us to continue to innovate and change the health-care industry.”
Here’s the entire list of Entrepreneur Challenge winners
Grand Prize ($40,000 from Zions Bank) • Cowboy Kolaches, Brigham Young University — developed a machine to mass produce kolaches (slightly sweet, buttery pastries that are stuffed) for distribution to food retailers.
Best Written Business Plan ($5,000 from Zions Bank) • Doxy.me, University of Utah — a telemedicine tool that is HIPA compliant, free, easily customizable and simple to use.
Best Presentation ($5,000 from Zions Bank) • nanoKeys, Utah State University — a company working to provide for various keys to be scanned digitally and then resized to all fit in a small, sleek device.
Best Technology ($2,500 from Stoel Rives) • 6S Medical, University of Utah — an improved fascial closing device for laparoscopic surgery.
People’s Choice Video Award ($1,000 from Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corp.) • nanoKeys.
Incubator Award (in-kind services from Really Epic Ventures) • Alterniity GmbH, University of Utah — a virtual-gaming solution that incorporates both physical and cognitive training to prevent the onset and effects of Alzheimer’s.
Best Bootstrap ($1,500 from Actium Partners) • AeroGym Fitness System, Utah State University — a portable fitness device that uses elastic bands and weights.
Best Speed Pitch, tie ($250 each) • Cowboy Kolaches and Veritas Medical, University of Utah — a laser device that uses light to disinfect medical catheters.
Best Tabling Award ($500) • nanoKeys.