Three student businesses named VentureSpur Finalists

by Dollie Elliott 
(June 18, 2012 at 9:38 am)

Three businesses started by students and recent graduates from Oklahoma State University were recently selected as 2012 VentureSpur Finalists. The three businesses are among 10 finalists chosen from all applicants and will now be given the chance to pitch to the Oklahoma City accelerator’s investors for an opportunity to win one of three program openings.

The MaxQ team members Saravan Kumar Shanmugavelayudam, Venkat Gidda, Balaji Jayakumar, and Jessica Shelton pictured with Michael Morris, fourth from left, of OSU School of Entrepreneurship.

The three OSU businesses – CleanNG, MaxQ and MesoBio – will be vying for a spot in the 12-week accelerator program, beginning on Aug. 6, that includes seed funding, office space, intensive mentorship from successful entrepreneurs, hands-on workshops, free business services. The program culminates in Pitch Day on Nov. 7.

“We are proud of these young entrepreneurs who have worked hard to develop their businesses and have shown they can compete successfully against entrepreneurial start-ups from across Oklahoma and other states,” said Nola Miyasaki, director of the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship in OSU’s Spears School of Business. “Their success is a tribute to their perseverance and passion, as well as to the faculty advisors, entrepreneurs and mentors who have supported them in launching their businesses from Oklahoma State University.”

All three of the businesses were winners in the Riata Business Plan Competition.

CleanNG, led by Matt Villarreal, is an innovator of advance performance products for natural gas vehicles. The company took second place in the 2011 Riata Business Plan Competition and won $10,000. CleanNG is a graduate of the Riata Center’s Cowboy Idea Hatchery student incubator housed in the Spears School.

MaxQ, led by Saravan Kumar, a mechanical and aerospace engineering PhD student, is creating high-grade insulation products and environmental control systems for temperature sensitive goods and services. The business placed second in the 2012 business plan competition and won $10,000. MaxQ is currently a resident business in the Cowboy Idea Hatchery.

The MesoBio team members Jose Fulgencio, Jamie Solberg and Xiao Xiao pictured with Michael Morris, second from left, of OSU School of Entrepreneurship. Shoaib Shaikh, the fourth member of the MesoBio, is not pictured.

MesoBio, led by Shoaib Shaikh, is a business providing highly differentiated miRNA vectors to facilitate researchers’ development of therapeutics for diseases. It was the first-place winner in this spring’s business plan competition, and was awarded $25,000. MesoBio is commercializing an OSU technology developed by Professor Lin Liu in the College of Veterinary Sciences.

The three winners for the inaugural accelerator class will be announced July 6. The accelerator is housed in VentureSpur’s offices in The Film Exchange building on historic Film Row in downtown Oklahoma City

“Each of these finalists has a great story to tell, and some of them are simply amazing,” said Kraetti L. Epperson, co-founder and managing director of VentureSpur. “We are very happy with the applications we received. It was difficult to make a choice among so many excellent candidates.”