maroon wave
SU Announces 2024 Student Entrepreneurship Competition Winners

SU Announces 2024 Student Entrepreneurship Competition Winners

By SU Public Relations

SALISBURY, MD---Senior computer science major Sean Berndlmaier navigated his way to the top during Salisbury University’s 37th annual  student Entrepreneurship Competitions.

His business plan, IndoorNav Pro, earned a $19,125 total prize package. It included the $15,000 Richard A. Bernstein Achievement Award for  Excellence, named in honor of the competition’s founder and sponsored by LWRC International and Rommel Chesapeake; the M&T Bank-sponsored  $2,500 first place in the second round of the competition’s “Gull Cage” Shark Tank-style elevator pitch to local business leaders; the  $625 Concept Conqueror Award for best prototype, sponsored by SU’s Dave and Patsy Rommel Center for Entrepreneurship; and $1,000 from the competition’s initial “Invest in My Idea” round.

IndoorNav Pro is a mapping solutions provider that will use blueprints, floor plans and building plan digital integration to help guests navigate public spaces such as college campuses, shopping malls, athletic venues, convention centers and more.

“I want to use my interests in software development, machine learning and entrepreneurship to provide solutions for the public,” said Berndlmaier, of Warminster, PA. “GPS is commonly used and has been around for decades, why has it not been reformatted for indoor spaces? I want to change that.”

The maps would include path optimization such as nearest entrance, stairs, elevators, and locations for bathrooms, emergency health equipment and fire alarms.

Second place went to Mates, an online application that offers American college students an easy and accessible way of making connections during their time studying abroad. Monica Bailey, of Columbia, MD, Makayla Hartzell, of Bangor, PA, and Rion Durkan, of Catonsville, MD, earned $7,000 in cash from Maryland Capital Enterprises and former two-time Bernstein Award winner Jenna Deletto ‘18, plus $5,000 in services from SU’s Business, Economic and Community Outreach Network (BEACON); the $1,000 second place Gull Cage prize sponsored by the Rommel Center; and $1,000 from the “Invest in My Idea” round for a total prize package of $14,000.

Nero Schrader, of Vienna, VA; Anthony Behrmann, of Clarksville, MD; and Natalie Held, of Ellicott City, MD, came in third with their plan for True Waterman, LLC, specializing in crab and shark fishing charters. Their idea netted $5,000 in cash from Pohanka Automotive Group, the $500 Gull Cage third-place prize, the $625 Rommel Center Concept Conqueror Award for local impact, the $1,000 Jenna Drewer Noll Award for cross-collaboration between two or more SU schools, and $1,000 from the “Invest in My Idea” round for a total prize package of $8,125.

Through collaborations with other institutions, winners in this round included students not only from SU, but from the University of Maryland Global Campus and University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Participants from these institutions had the opportunity to participate in SU-sponsored workshops prior to the competition and to work with SU-affiliated entrepreneurship consultants.

Earning the fourth-place $500 Gull Cage prize was Open Doors Productions, a proposal for clothing marketing through near-field communication technology by Daniel Gale (UMGC), of LaPlata, MD, and George Southworth, of Hughesville, MD. They also took home the City of Salisbury Mayor’s Award ($3,000 in cash and $2,000 in services) plus $1,000 from the “Invest in My Idea” round for a total prize package of $6,500.

In addition to the four finalists, 11 other business plans received $1,000 each during the “Invest in My Idea” round.

Cash awards for the “Invest in My Idea” round were provided by judges and supporters of the competition. Recipients included:

•    AI SwingCoach (golf swing AI analysis) – Oscar Spiers, St. Davids, PA, and Walter Euceda-Mendoza, Fort Washington, MD.

•    Be A Legend (dog rescue and training program) – Morgan Haupt, Hagerstown, MD

•    BesteaBay (bubble tea business) – Xiaorong Gong, Salisbury, and Matthew Monninger, Rockville, MD

•    Click-Call (multifunctional safety keychain) – Anna Hionis, Christiana, PA, Madison Dawson, Abingdon, MD, and Ashley Moran, Elkton, MD (also won the $250 Inclusive Excellence Award)

•    Coastal Bar (mobile bar) – Kassidy Gibson, Hampstead, MD, Thomas Tippett, Damascus, MD, and Timothy Wolf, Eldersburg, MD

•    Crazy Putts (brewery and mini golf experience) – Robert Howatt, Salisbury

•    Easy Fold (foldable charger) – Noah Evans, Princess Anne, MD 

•    Kyfi (italian pasta restaurant) – Kyle Zeder, Elkridge, MD, and Ryan Freese, Odenton, MD

•    Life Vision Clothing, LLC (community enlightenment apparel brand) – Josiah Parker, Bowie, MD

•    Service Rescue Alliance (medical service dog training) – Mackenzie Wheelock, Owings, MD (also won the $250 Inclusive Excellence Award, the $1,000 Diversity Award and the SU Veterans Services Award [$550 in cash and $750 in services])

•    Travlr! (trip planning social media app) – Tiana Cyrelson, Voorhees, NJ (also won the $625 Rommel Center Moonshot Ideas Award)

Additional winners included:

•    Unilock (fingerprint bike lock) – Murphy O’Grady, Robbinsville, NJ, Nathan Michael, La Plata, MD, and Andrew Wilson, Salisbury ($1,000 Salisbury Wicomico Economic Development Award)

•    OptiVital Supplements (customizable supplements) – Trent Spicer-Davis, Fruitland, MD ($1,000 CareFirst Award)

•    Substantial Enterprises, LLC – Shymir Coakley (UMES), of Salisbury ($625 Rommel Center Social Impact Award) 

Participants also won door prizes donated by KindSBY and companies including Beach Um, FunFull, Plak That, Rommel’s Ace Hardware, Southbound Alley, Specific Gravity and Ugly Pie.

Many competitors, like the IndoorNav Pro and Mates teams, represented SU academic schools and colleges beyond SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business. Judges praised the students’ efforts and encouraged them to take advantage of the Delmarva Peninsula’s economic ecosystem, including tools available at SU, to better their ideas, products and services.

This includes services from the Rommel Center and training and support from members of the local entrepreneurship ecosystem, including John Hickman, director of BEACON. Through these resources, members of the University’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) offer student-to-student business plan and coaching services. The competition has awarded students more than $1 million in cash and prizes. 

For more information about SU’s Entrepreneurship Competitions, visit the program's webpage.

Learn more about opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.