UM Students Win $2,500 for Business Plans at Startup Pitch Competition

December 11, 2014

MISSOULA – A panel of experts heard eight potential business plans from University of Montana students at the Fall Startup Pitch Competition on Dec. 9 and awarded $2,500 in prizes to the best pitches.

Stakeholders within the Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs and Blackstone LaunchPad helped organize the event which was open to all UM students and is a precursor to the statewide John Ruffatto Business Plan Competition, held each spring at UM.

Eight teams, chosen from a field of 14 entrants, gathered on campus for the competition. Graduate student Chad Miller, who is working toward a master’s degree in business administration, won the $1,500 overall prize for his presentation on Purus, an engineering support operations management firm which bridges the technology and marketing gaps between oil and gas service companies and their customers. Miller earned an automatic entrance to the spring competition.

A virtual mail-order pharmacy service won as the most exciting startup idea, earning MBA student Markpaul Santos $500. Santos’ Proscriptz contracts local independent pharmacies for prescription order fulfillment. His goal is to create innovative solutions for an improved working environment providing a premium experience for patients.

Forestry major Stephen Jenkins presented his pitch toward becoming the largest provider of renewable methanol and liquid carbon dioxide in the Northwest. United Methanol would process low-value wood waste to customers at a low cost. Jenkins was awarded $500 for the most compelling live presentation.

Additional teams who competed included Jamin Dailey with a pitch for Good Hope Ranch; Akram Mirzoev with a business called Gud; Justin Dean and Nathan Hansen with their Basecamp Yellowstone idea; Kevin Kuhns with Not Sponsored; and Katherine Vincent with her pitch on Monter. 

More information about MADE is available online at

For more information about the Blackstone LaunchPad, visit


Contact: Larae Hackney, management and marketing department assistant, UM School of Business Administration, 406-243-4830,