Economics student Lily D'Amico’s Oxy camping chair takes top honors at University of Portland’s 2017 $100K Challenge Venture Competition

Franz Center

May 1, 2017

A record 36 teams participated in the Franz Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation’s annual $100K Challenge Venture Competition, held at the University of Portland on Saturday, April 29.

The top for-profit business design went to Lily D’Amico, a junior studying Economics and Entrepreneurship, for the Oxy, an innovative camping pad that converts to a comfortable chair. She was awarded the top prize of $1,250 to help further development of her product.

First place in the Social Enterprise, or non-profit, category went to Marisa Tottori for Green Char Solutions. Tottori, a senior studying Entrepreneurship & Innovation Management, worked with a team of Engineering students to develop a natural fertilizer to support farmers in Indonesia. She also was awarded $1,250 for first place in her category.

An annual entrepreneurial competition presented by the Franz Center, the $100K Challenge Venture offers individuals or teams of students present their business concepts and business plans before a panel of industry judges. The competition is supported by the University of Portland Launchpad Fund, which offers seed funding and incubation opportunities for student ventures. Funded by generous alumni, led by Rich Baek ’93 ’02 and supported by many others, the fund encourages students of all majors to innovate and monetize their ideas.

Students competed in specific categories, depending upon their concept and business plan they presented: For-Profit venture, Social Enterprise (Non-Profit), and, new this year, Bioethics venture, which featured four competitors from the University’s Biomedical Engineering program.

Also new this year was a Challenge track focused on Invention, allowing students to highlight a product they developed through the InventOR statewide student invention program. The Invention competition offers students the opportunity to showcase inventions they have developed and for which they may have a design and early stage mockup, prototype, or prototype.

The $100K Challenge Venture Competition provides students with the opportunity to receive feedback from experts in the entrepreneurial community, win monetary prizes, and acquire legal, accounting, and other services that will help advance an idea to the next stage in the entrepreneurial process. Judges included industry leaders from around the Portland Metro area, including representatives from corporations, foundations, non-profit organizations, small businesses, and startups.

Prizes include $1,250 for first place (for-profit and non-profit); $750 for second place (for-profit) and $250 for third place (for-profit). Sponsors include LivePlan, Schwabe, Williamson and Wyatt, Klarquist Sparkman LLP, AARP Foundation, Portland Business Journal, and the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN).

2017 $100K Challenge Venture Competition Winners

A.  For-Profit Venture Track

1st Place: Oxy: The PacBack – Lily D'Amico
D’Amico’s company PacBack has developed the Oxy, an innovative camping pad that converts to a comfortable chair, bringing comfort and relaxation to the backpacker. 

2nd Place: VascularChem – Monica Figueroa and Sarah James
This team of Biomedical Engineering Masters students conceived, prototyped, and developed a detailed commercialization plan for an implantable port that can dramatically reduce infection and port failure.

3rd Place: Zeus – Evan Fontaine
Zeus has developed a next generation "stun gun" for law enforcement, allowing for greater options and reliability in delivering non-lethal force, thereby leading to reduced use of firearms on crime suspects. 

B.  Social Enterprise (Non-Profit) Track

1st Place - Green Char Solutions - Marisa Tottori
This team worked with a group of Engineering students to develop a natural fertilizer to support farmers in Indonesia.

C.  Invention Track

The new Invention category, supported by Business Oregon and The Lemelson Foundation, is part of the statewide InventOR, which helps students at colleges and universities throughout Oregon to learn about and create inventions. Two winners from each participating school will receive up to $2500 to prototype their inventions, receive mentoring support, then participate in a statewide competition in October 2017. The InventOR event will include $30,000 of awards and funding towards commercialization of the student inventions.

University of Portland Invention Winners

1.  Atlas Lume by John Stone and Lily D’Amico
A specially woven and produced roping material, incorporating lighting for camping and other outdoor applications.

2.  Atlas' Shoulders by Thomas Manfredonia and Ben Murphy
Invented by a Mechanical Engineering student who is also a river guide, this product allows for shifting of weight and balance, offering easier portaging of canoes and kayaks.

About the Franz Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation
The Franz Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation supports all University of Portland students in the development of leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation skills, knowledge, and mindsets. The Franz Center helps students learn how to make ideas happen, create new business models and plans, develop innovative projects, and think outside the box. It has been ranked consistently among the top entrepreneurship programs nationally and is recognized for its outreach to and partnerships with Portland’s business community.

For more information, contact Peter Rachor, Franz Center, at (503) 943-7769 or


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