Aspiring entrepreneur Burton Cannon won the college division in the 8th annual Springboard Ideas Challenge Thursday night.
Cannon, a junior engineering and physics major from Mill Creek, Washington, said his idea, ModPlug, came to him while working in the oil fields over the summer.
“The trailer brake plugs broke almost every day on all the trucks at the yard, and because I was the only one with any electronics knowledge, I had to fix it all,” Cannon said.
Originally Cannon wanted to create a magnetic version of the plug, but when he started researching it he saw someone had already thought of it. Cannon said his hatred for wall outlets produced his next idea.
“I found out that the technology in wall outlets is 100 years old and they allow this thing called phantom loss,” Cannon said. “So I created an outlet that turns off when not in use, automatically.”
To become a finalist each contestant is required to write an eight-page business plan. Cannon said other than winning, this was his favorite part because he was able to write it easily.
“When I have my own personal goal in mind, I love it,” Cannon said. “If I had to do an essay it would be like pulling teeth.”
The Springboard program is put on by the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy, and is split into two divisions: the community division and the college division.
Karen Heflin, springboard program coordinator, said the process of selecting the winners and awarding the money is similar to the TV show Shark Tank.
“They are basically just trying to provide students with an opportunity to present their business plan before they have to go out and have do it in the real world,” Heflin said.
As the grand prize winner, Cannon received $10,000 and office space for a year to help start his business. Cannon said his next step is to complete the programming for his outlet and create a good, clean plan for his product.
“It’s all a learning curve,” Cannon said. “I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 10 years old. So it’s always been a learning curve, with the mindset of ‘let’s tread these waters.'”
Alex Carstens, junior biochemistry major, and Zach Carstens, junior Bible and ministry major, both from College Station, won second place and $3,000 in the college division for their Lavender Mattress idea. Aaron Burch, freshman biology major from Flower Mound, was awarded third place and $1,000 for his eco-friendly fish hook.
Nick Seedorf, founder of two multi-million dollar businesses and guest speaker for the Springboard awards dinner, said it is great to see so many creative ideas and be able to encourage Christ-centered entrepreneurship.
“It’s okay to learn, it’s okay to take risks,” Seedorf, an entrepreneur from Long Beach, California, said. “It’s necessary to be talking to God throughout the whole process.”