2019 SVPC Recap

Focus is on Refugees at Thirteenth Annual SVPC Showcase

Recognizing the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP’s) across the globe, aspiring entrepreneurs at Seattle Pacific University’s Thirteenth Annual Social Venture Plan Competition (SVPC) developed solutions for safe water, warm shelter, and economic opportunity. Several top projects featured ideas that would make life easier for those driven from their homes or countries due to disaster, political unrest or war. The Showcase event, the finale of the annual SVPC, occurred on the SPU campus Tuesday, April 16, 2019.


The top project was Rush, chosen as the $5000 Herbert B. Jones Grand Prize winner by the combined votes of nearly 80 judges representing the business, non-profit, academic and professional communities. Teplo came in second, winning the $3000 runner-up award. Almost 400 students, faculty, staff and guests voted for their favorite project, and the Donald B. Summers People’s Choice award of $1000 fell to Evity.

Rush exists to provide a reliable, cost-efficient, and provisional source of clean drinking water to individuals in emergency situations. The team engineered a water condenser that cools ambient air below its relative dew point, causing vapor to condense to its liquid form. Each small unit produces up to eight liters of water a day, enough to sustain a family of four. The units would be sold to humanitarian aid and relief organizations for use in disaster situations, refugee camps and more. The Rush team included senior Mechanical Engineering major Coby Olson, senior Electrical Engineering major Jon Xayasy, junior Global Development Studies and Social Justice double major Carly Strayer, and seniors Mikael Mulhall and Aubrey Payne, both Economics and Global Development Studies double majors.


In Ukraine, conditions of government instability and local conflict have led to an increased number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees in the past few years. The standard shelter deployed for IDP’s by aid organizations is insufficient for the below-freezing winters in Ukraine. The Teplo team developed an easily deployable, pre-fabricated, and low-maintenance shelter to provide protection and safety year-round. The units are modular, heated, self-contained, and designed for large-scale installation by aid and relief organizations. Teplo was comprised of senior Psychology and Business Administration double major Andrea Phillips, junior Business Administration major Audrey Franks, junior Global Development Studies major Emma Goehle, senior Global Development Studies major Madisynn McCombs, senior Business Administration major Chris Cole, and senior Mechanical Engineering major Calvin Kispert.

Three Honorable Mention prizes of $2,000 were also awarded:


Boldly B.E.E. would train formerly incarcerated young women, aged 18-24, in Pierce County to install and maintain beehives, providing both societal and environmental benefits through the sale of both hives and honey. Boldly B.E.E. was the work of junior Global Development Studies majors Lakyn Coppedge and Madison Zurcher, senior Global Development Studies majors Makenna Kokosz, Dylan Forbes and Sara Schaffner, and first-year Business Administration major Noah Higgins.


Evity plans to create locally made, sustainable, and on-trend women’s lingerie through the employment of skilled immigrant and refugee women, establishing dignified career opportunities for women to take control over their earning power and build community. The Evity team was comprised of sophomore Business Administration major Gracie Brown, junior Business Administration major Kersha Taitano, junior Economics and Global Development Studies double major Kaitlyn Anderson, and seniors Kat Antonelli and Elizabeth Vaccaro, both double majors in Global Development Studies and Political Science.


With the slogan “accommodate all,” Verity proposed a system to certify the ADA accessibility of public buildings and then disseminate that information to consumers through a convenient app. The Verity plan was written and presented by senior Global Development Studies major Sadie Henderson, junior Global Development Studies major Hannah Holmgren, and senior Business Administration majors Jane Grisley and Andrew Ivaldi.


For the sixth year in a row, SPU collaborated with Urban Impact, a faith-based non-profit in Seattle’s Rainier Valley neighborhood. Teams presenting projects focused on making a difference in the Rainier Valley were eligible for a separate $500 prize and this year’s winner of the Rainier Valley track award was Syzzle.

Syzzle aims to develop a series of cooking classes for adults that would generate revenue to underwrite a set of existing cooking classes for children in south Seattle, organized by the non-profit Child to Chef. Senior Business Administration major Joshua Patterson pitched Syzzle, and wrote the business plan in cooperation with community partner Dwane Butler of Child to Chef.

The Syzzle project will also present at Sharks at the Beach. This “Shark Tank”-style evening will be hosted by Urban Impact at the New Holly Gathering Hall, 7054 – 32nd Ave S in Seattle, WA, on April 25, 2019. Several Rainier Valley-based entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas in front of a panel of community experts and a live audience. The event begins at 6:00 p.m. and runs until approximately 8:30 p.m. with cash prizes awarded to the winning projects.

This is the thirteenth year of SPU’s Social Venture Plan Competition. Nineteen teams presented at the Showcase event, comprising approximately 70 students. In addition to SPU projects, two teams from Northwest Nazarene University (Nampa, ID) competed, as well as one team each from Presidio Graduate School (Seattle, WA), and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (Soccoro, NM). In addition to the nearly 80 community judges, approximately 350 students, faculty and staff voted in the People’s Choice balloting.


The Showcase Round was the final leg of the Social Venture Plan Competition. Earlier stages in the competition included a series of seminars on the basics of business plan writing, scoring of teams’ written business plans, and coaching sessions with knowledgeable businesspeople, non-profit executives and others. In all, more than 150 community volunteers gave time as readers, instructors, coaches, and judges.

Leslie Hale, a business consultant with Knot Strategy, and long-time SVPC volunteer noted, “I love doing this and will continue to volunteer as long as you will have me. It is energizing to see the students work hard on a concept and bring it so far along in such a short amount of time. It is a very inspiring event.”


Greg Hartmann, an External Partner Manager with AT&T and a frequent Showcase Judge, commented:
Looks like the results were right on target this year . . . I voted for some of the top picks. How could you compete with clean water and warmth?

Retired Oracle executive and first-time Judge Carol Kelly added, “I loved the competition, and the energy of the students, and the event!

Financial sponsors of the SVPC include the Herbert B. Jones Foundation, the Scott and Kathleen Cummins Family Foundation, Fischer Companies, Pioneer Human Services, Bellmont Cabinets, Northwest Center, and Skills, Inc. The competition is organized by the Center for Applied Learning (CAL) in the School of Business, Government, and Economics (SBGE) at SPU.