Entrepreneurs were given a chance to win prize money by pitching a solution or business plan at the fifth annual JumpStart challenge Saturday afternoon.

The event, hosted by the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development at the FUSE Coworking office, featured two challenges: the corporate challenge and the wild-card challenge. Both gave teams six minutes to present their ideas, followed by a four-minute Q&A session with the judges.

This year's corporate challenge was sponsored by Union Bank and Trust. Teams presented ideas that would make improvements to the processing of personal financial statements.

Christina Oldfather, the director of innovation and entrepreneurship at LPED, said statements are crucial to business lending.

“Any business that’s going to take out a loan has to fill those out, and they have to fill them out annually if they’re maintaining loans,” she said. “It’s basically a very terrible, antiquated way that they have of sending people that form and getting that information back.”

Ben Pankonin, the CEO of Social Assurance, a company that helps financial brands overcome compliance hurdles, was the winner of the corporate challenge.

A fourth-generation entrepreneur, Pankonin said he personally understands the troubles that come with personal financial statements. His proposal included a semi-functional software that he said fits well with software from Social Assurance.

"We provide a full workflow, from the application through underwriting approval, and then the tracking for other commercial lenders so they can see the status on all of the loan process and the full documentation," Pankonin said.

Pankonin received $1,000 and a chance to work directly with Union Bank and Trust to build the solution.

Two second-place winners, Sourabh Chakraborty and Doc Bolton, were awarded $500.

The second challenge was open to entrepreneurs with a new business or business idea. Gregory Nail, a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and founder of Goodi, was this year’s winner.

“We signed up for this last night at midnight,” Nail said. “I didn’t even know we had to have a Power Point today, so I just showed up and was, like, I’ll say something about our company, but we’ll probably lose. And here we are.”

Goodi distributes promotional products from companies — such as T-shirts and stickers with company logos — to students for free, allowing companies to advertise at little cost. Goodi has ties with five companies, and Nail said he plans to use part of his $2,000 prize money to grow the brand with better-quality bags and business cards.

Oldfather said that even for those who didn’t win, the event still gave them a chance to meet others in the startup community.

“There’s still a lot of value in getting up and presenting that idea, making connections with people,” she said. “Hopefully (they're) still spinning something into a business, whether it’s now or later.”

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You can reach Bailey Schulz at 402-473-7223 or bschulz@journalstar.com. On Twitter @bailey_schulz.


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