May 5, 2020 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids Community College student won second place in the MWest Challenge student venture competition.
Mark Tamminga pitched his idea for Mythos Dice, a startup to create bespoke dice that can be designed by Dungeons and Dragons players using an interactive webpage. Tamminga won $2,500 for his second-place presentation for a business that would provide high-quality personalized dice for game enthusiasts.
Through MWest Challenge, students can develop and grow new ventures based on their own ideas. This year, teams from nine West Michigan colleges and universities competed for $12,000. The competition also includes opportunities for students to network with investors.
“The MWest Challenge, especially the Final Pitch, is a taste of the real world for anyone going into business,” Tamminga said. “Being able to present in front of investors in a way that is clear and persuasive is a core aspect of being successful in the professional world. This challenge is an opportunity to stand out for any student with the drive to step outside of their comfort zone.
“Personally, the MWest Challenge gave me valuable experience applying the lessons from the business courses I’ve taken over the last two years. It’s also proven to me, yet again, that GRCC students are more than capable of competing with any other college or university at the highest level. When I transfer to GVSU next semester, I’ll be able to go in confidently, knowing that I’m well-prepared for making the leap to a four-year university.”
GRCC student Hunter Schumaker also presented in the finalist round of eight with Eco-Blade Razors. Schumaker got involved in the competition through classes with Professor Felix Pereiro, head of the Business Department. Even though Schumaker did not win a prize this year, he still thought it was a valuable experience.
“GRCC helped provide this opportunity,” Schumaker said. “I appreciate Professor Pereiro for all the help I received from him over the many months preparing for this event. It was an incredible experience.”
Three other GRCC students competed this year in the showcase idea pitch round:
- Anders Rottschafer, Phat Nguyen and Austin Edger with Center for Homelessness Research, a startup that collects financial data from the major organizations focused on homelessness.
- Amir Ukubakeder, Elijah Dixon, Elly Delgado and Nathan Coppock, with Sneaker Fit, an app that shows a person what the shoe would look like on their feet
- Andrew Glaza, with Parent Prep, an app that offers insights and information that new parents need to know and helps them make connections with other parents of children ages newborn to 2 years.
“The judges’ responses were very insightful, prompting fruitful discussions among my team,” Rottschafer said. “MWest informed us in early April that, due to COVID-19, the presentations would take place online and clearly described to us how that would work. We did not have any issues with the virtual meeting place. I am glad we have people like Professor Pereiro at GRCC who go above and beyond for GRCC students.”
Rottschafer encouraged other students to participate “if you have an idea you want to try out, or have already committed to trying out.”
“It doesn’t take too much time, and the things you learn throughout the process will alone be worth it,” he said.
Pereiro points out that the students' MWest achievements are the culmination of hours of practice and preparation.
“This is a special accomplishment for our students as they work toward their certificate and associate degrees,” he said.
“Mark, Hunter, Anders, Phat, Austin, Amir and Andrew put in the hours necessary to compete against the very best college students in West Michigan – facing juniors, seniors and MBA students from top four-year universities in West Michigan -- and their work and dedication paid off.”
Pereiro said the teams were supported by Business Department faculty, especially adjunct Professor Tom Miller and staff, and they also received valuable help from other departments.
"Competitive events, such as MWest Challenge, help our GRCC students improve and polish their skills so they are better able to differentiate themselves in a highly competitive marketplace," Pereiro said. "They learn for themselves what entrepreneurs go through during the early startup stage and the hard work that goes into creating an outstanding executive summary, presentation, and idea pitch."
GRCC was scheduled to host this year’s MWest Challenge before the competition moved completely online because of COVID-19.
GRCC's Business Department offers programs in accounting, business administration, management and supervision, and marketing and certificates in entrepreneurship and supply chain operations management.
Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.