Sontag Finalists Announced!

The 2017 Sontag Business Plan competition received 50 intents to compete and 27 business submissions. The winner of the award receives $50,000 to be used to launch their business. The finalists are listed below.


Screen time and school grades can be inversely related and this creates big problems at school and home.  Parents and teachers are sometimes tricked into thinking “edutainment” is a scientifically-backed learning strategy.  The reality is few research-based studies have found positive correlations between screen-based learning games and academic performance.  Recent international test scores reveal that US children’s math scores are plummeting while their screen time is exploding.  Simultaneously, parents struggle to manage their children’s screen time.
eBravium gamifies access to smart devices in a novel way to help kids think and learn faster–initially with Math Facts aligned with Common Core.  Literally, we suspend access to the smart device’s fun stuff (i.e. Angry Birds, Minecraft, etc.) making access contingent upon answering questions correctly.  We call it our “learn-to-earn” philosophy and it’s delivered through a phone/tablet interface (with a simple download from the app store).

The exciting underlying science led to a grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research program.    Our proprietary algorithms parachute the adaptive questions into the device at the optimal time of learning relative to the reward creating a new generation of artificial intelligence.   Because we tap into the reward circuitry of children’s brains we are exploiting powerful neurotransmitters so the children learn at fast rates. It’s all protected by five patent applications covering a broad base. Once we complete our pilots under the NSF grant, we will launch our product through partnerships under a freemium-based subscription.

Salty Snail

Salty Snail Studios, LLC is an indie mobile entertainment software startup. In 2014, founder and veteran video game developer, Arthur LeVesque, began tinkering in mobile video game development. One evening, Arthur’s wife’s 12-year-old cousin called about a game idea which came to him in a dream the night before. Thinking this would be a great way to get to know his extended family and learn how to develop a mobile game, Arthur began developing this child’s dream in-between working full-time and getting his Master’s in Business Administration. As time went on, Arthur became engrossed with the project. With the unwavering support and guidance from his friends and family, Arthur produced one of the most innovative and intuitive mobile entertainment experiences around. Scheduled to launch for iPhone in Canada in Winter, 2017 and the United States in Spring, 2018, Salty Snail Studios hopes to captivate and inspire the casual indie mobile gaming community with a child’s dream turned to reality, Spider DiveTM.

New Paths

New Path’s mission is to create a client centered environment for homeless youth ages 18-24 that empowers them to accomplish life challenges by providing housing, programming, and continued support.
The homeless youth population in Reno is on the rise.  Since 2012, the homeless youth population has risen 80%.  Homeless youth is a problem both for the individual and this community. Homeless youth adversely effect communities by contributing to rates of crime, substance use, street economy, and violence.  The homeless youth are also expensive to the local economy by disproportionally using services such as hospitals, the jail and court systems, and mental health services. Each individual youth causes an economic social burden of $37,000 annually through their mismanaged use of community services.
Our plan is to create a new facility where the youth live and receive services.  All clients will have a case manager with services available to them including: counseling, social emotional learning, life and job skills training, trauma informed care, and social services on site. This model gives clients a full wrap-around service.
The goals of this plan are to better the individual and the local community.  The individual benefits from services provided of housing and learned skills to become a self sustainable person. Tax payers, agencies, and the community save money through the youth’s increased personal productivity and less reliance on community services.  Reducing youth homelessness in this way is a win-win.
New Paths is proposed by Logan Parsley, Zenon Post, and Kyle Sundland.


There is nothing worse than going to a restaurant and ordering bad food.  If this happens a customer feels like they have wasted their money and time.  Often a customer has to rely on advice or trial and error to find good dishes on a menu. (EatRank) is a food sharing and review platform for specific dishes at restaurants. When deciding what to eat, EatRank is the restaurant goers best friend.  The application will provide a crowd-sourced detailed view of a restaurant’s menu, complete with ratings and user reviews of each dish. Any user can upload their own rating, review, and photograph of a dish they have experienced. This information will be viewable by other users on the platform so others can make informed decisions on what they should eat in their area. Restaurants can also create profiles to gather feedback on reviews and ratings to improve the food that they serve. Consumers and Restaurants will be empowered with data for a better eating experience. EatRank will revolutionize the way people look at restaurants and how they decide what to eat.

Blue Radiate

Blue Radiate is a Reno based startup creating software that will help PR agencies and large corporations have a larger, more effective impact through the media.

Blue Radiate aims to help PR professionals find relevant reporters by crawling millions of data points to find, sort, and rank journalists according to the relevance to a campaign. PR professionals will be able to streamline their workflow by using Blue Radiate to find the right reporter for a campaign, send them the right pitch, and measure the results.

We are currently in the proof of concept and prototyping phase, and expect to have a functional minimum viable product within 4-6 months.

Finalists will be pitching their ideas to a panel of judges on March 11th, 2017 at the Innevation Center from 2:00 to 5:00 PM. Community members and students are welcome to watch the presentations.