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Ball-tossing machine business wins Shocker Business Plan Competition

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, May 6, 2013, at 3:52 p.m.

Wichita State University students Sarah Hirsh and Nathan Elmore plan to devote the next year or two to turning an inventor’s sports gadget into a hot new product.

They won the 2013 Shocker Business Plan Competition on Friday for their plans for Fungo, a soft toss machine that can toss any type of small ball in the air for hitting.

The competition is held every year by WSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship. As the winners, Hirsh and Elmore received $10,000 in prize money to be used on their project.

The winners also receive one-on-one consultation with banking, legal and accounting professionals, and membership in the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce.

The two plan to continue beyond the competition and go into business, drawing on the network of local experts and investors connected with the competition.

Hirsh and Elmore said that a local inventor brought a prototype of the Fungo, which he had patented, to the center seeking help in figuring out how to sell it.

Chris Broberg, an assistant professor at WSU’s business school, sought students to write a business plan for the Fungo and the two volunteered to take it on.

For now, they’re planning on licensing the Fungo. They start soon to meet with investors and advisers.

They aim to have a product ready for the 2015 sports season.

“I think we’ll definitely have lot of obstacles to overcome,” Hirsh said. “We’ll have the network of judges to give us advice. It will be a learning process for me and Nathan and also a lot of fun.”

Second place in the competition was won by Tori Deatherage, with WichitaLimelight.com, a complete entertainment resource that unites consumers and Wichita’s variety of attractions, events and entertainment.

Third place winners were Timothy Farha and Gabriel Stevens for VitalTouchPro, an all-in-one automated medical kiosk that securely collects a patient’s critical medical information and increases physician workflow efficiency.

Fourth place was won by Heidi VanRavenhorst-Bellm for software that enables devices to become medical tools by capturing physical health and fitness measures without the use of invasive electrodes and straps.

In the Elevator Pitch Competition, first place went to LifeBand Pulse Detector, pitched by Shifath Khan and Ali Ghazinezami. Other winners were: in second place, Arthur Harris, pitched by Samuel Jossie; third place, ESchedge, pitched by Ramsey Jamoul and Dylan Anderson; fourth place, 3S Driving, pitched by Robert C. May.

Reach Dan Voorhis 316-268-6577 or dvoorhis@wichitaeagle.com.

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