UM Student Entrepreneurs Warm Up at EPIC Pitch Competition

December 05, 2016

MISSOULA – The Blackstone LaunchPad at University of Montana and the Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs will host its annual fall startup pitch competition, now called the EPIC Pitch Competition, from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7, in UM’s Gilkey Building.

The goal of the competition is to encourage innovative and creative thinking as well as prepare students for the John Ruffato Business Startup Challenge, held annually at UM near the end of spring semester. At EPIC, teams present early-stage ideas for new businesses or social entrepreneurship ventures.

Eight finalists will be selected from a pool of applicants and the competition will award four cash prizes totaling $3,000. The winner of the EPIC Pitch Competition also earns automatic entry into the Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge.

The EPIC Pitch Competition is open to the public. Tickets to attend the event can be reserved online for free at

The law firm Michael Best donated $2,500 in prize money for this year’s EPIC Pitch Competition. Michael Best is a leading law firm with more than 220 attorneys in offices located in Wisconsin, Chicago, Missoula, Utah, Washington, D.C., and Texas.

Last year UM computer science graduate student Evin Oser took home $1,500 as winner of the EPIC Pitch Competition. Oser, who was a partial owner of Montana Root Applications, pitched a smartphone application, SolarScreen, which detects sun intensity through a phone’s geolocation. It warns a user if UV rays are too high for their personal profile and reminds them when to reapply sunscreen. SolarScreen went on to compete in the spring 2016 John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge. It is currently available for download on Google Play for Android and the Apple App Store for iOS.

Blackstone LaunchPad at UM is designed to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career path and develop entrepreneurial skills and mindsets through individualized coaching, ideation and venture creation support. Developed as part of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, the program is currently available to over 350,000 students on 15 campuses in six regions across the country. More information about the Blackstone LaunchPad is available at

MADE, a program of the School of Business Administration at UM, promotes and projects the spirit of entrepreneurship to all UM students and Montana entrepreneurs through educational opportunities and special events. Membership is comprised of entrepreneurs and individuals with experience of working with and advising entrepreneurs, such as angel investors, bankers, attorneys, and SoBA faculty. More information about MADE is available at


Contact: Morgan Slemberger, UM Blackstone LaunchPad, 406-243-5723,