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By Sarah Mauet


A venture team from the University of Arizona’s McGuire Entrepreneurship Program at the Eller College of Management, bested 10 other teams from around the state to win the grand prize at the fourth annual Arizona Collegiate Venture Competition (ACVC) this past Friday at the ASU Innovation Center at SkySong. The win marks the second consecutive year the Wildcats have taken top prize in the prestigious Phoenix competition.

The WorkSphere team, creators of a smartphone app that gives employers the ability to manage communication, accountability and productivity on one device, won the competition’s top prize of the Territorial Cup Trophy and $5,500 cash. The student team includes Daniel Dicochea, business management; Dante Egger, business management; Ivan Mendez, MIS; Timothy Wolfe, business economics; and Chaoying Yan, MIS. 

In addition, Dicochea, the team’s CEO, was awarded a $10,000 scholarship to attend an intensive seven-week entrepreneurship experience at Draper University in Silicon Valley.  Founded by legendary Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper in 2012, Draper University has created more than 250 startups that have raised more than $50 million, funded by some of the most prestigious investors, including Draper, Marc Andreessen and Marc Benioff. 

“We’ve made a lot of progress, thanks to the curriculum and our mentors at the McGuire Program, but attending Draper will propel us even further,” Dicochea said.

Two other UA McGuire Entrepreneurship Program venture teams competed against WorkSphere and eight other teams from Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University (NACET) and Grand Canyon University for a piece of $60,000 in cash prizes, Draper University scholarships and the Territorial Cup trophy. McGuire Entrepreneurship Program student teams took home three of the top six prizes. 

Bailiwic, a non-profit CRM platform, and Defiiant Technologies, creators of a wearable 3D camera and virtual reality social media platform, were both awarded Silver Level prizes of $3,500 each. Madeline Blank, CEO of Bailiwic, also received a $10,000 scholarship to Draper University. 

Blank, who turned down a corporate job to pursue her career as an entrepreneur, attributes much of the development of Bailiwic to the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program. 

“Eller has been pivotal in my career. They offered great resources and mentorship in marketing and entrepreneurship. I’ve really been blessed to have great resources at Eller,” she said.

Blank, a marketing major, teamed up with Fernando Garcia, business management, and Will Zandler, information science and technology, to create Bailiwic. Defiiant Technologies is Brian Herrera, optical sciences and engineering; Clayton Jeanette, systems engineering; Zachary Kane, marketing; and Kramer Kutschko, finance. 

As part of the competition, each team participated in a Conscious Capitalism Workshop provided by MAC6 Leadership and will receive mentorship over the next 12 months.

Last year, UA McGuire Entrepreneurship program venture team Infinurja, a startup that designs, produces and sells products that use organic waste and natural biological processes to generate continuous power to homes, won the grand prize in the competition. 

Students in the McGuire Program receive a year of intensive experiential education that engages them in the process of moving innovation from an early-stage idea to a sustainable investor-ready venture. The McGuire Entrepreneurship Program is part of the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, but it is open to UA undergraduate and graduate students from all fields of study. 


Top photo of the top-placing WorkSphere team by Sarah Mauet.