Local college entrepreneurs win prizes

BURLINGTON — Two Addison County men who attend Champlain College and a Middlebury College student are sharing $10,000 in prize money awarded last week in a competition for collegiate entrepreneurs. The money will be used to help them launch their respective companies.

Matthew Giles of New Haven and Cullen Jemison of Starksboro, who both attend Champlain College, are the founders of Thermouse. At the first-ever LaunchVT Collegiate Competition, on Feb. 19, they won first place and $7,500.

Thermouse designs ergonomic, 100 percent customizable computer mice geared toward gamers. The duo’s reasoning for starting the company is that everyone’s hand is unique so their computer mouse should be, too.

“We consider this a really vital step in moving toward our goal of manufacturing this product in Vermont,” Giles and Jemison said after winning the prize.

Thermouse will also have the opportunity to compete as a finalist in the LaunchVT competition on May 5 in Burlington.

The other prizewinner was Joyryde, a company founded by Middlebury College senior Terry Goguen of Massachusetts. For being named second place the company won $2,500. Joyryde makes an app that uses incentives to keep drivers from being distracted by their mobile devices.

LaunchVT Collegiate is sponsored by VtSBDC, Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, BTV Ignite and the participating colleges and universities. Chamber President Tom Torti was impressed by the quality of the pitches.

“It warms the heart to see the talent and creativity the teams brought to their business ideas and presentations today,” Torti said in a press release. “I hope these students walk away knowing that if they do start a business in Vermont, there is a great network of people to support them.”

Eight teams from Castleton University, Champlain College, Johnson State College, Lyndon State College, Middlebury College, Norwich College, St. Michael’s College, the University of Vermont and Vermont Technical College competed in this competition.

“Entrepreneurship is in Vermont’s DNA,” said Vermont Technical College President Dan Smith. “This event is an excellent opportunity for students and the state to showcase our creativity and enterprising spirit. We are thrilled to field a team and be a part of it.”

Applications for the next round of LaunchVT, which will award more than $80,000 in cash and prizes in May, are due by March 13. Visit www.launchvt.com for more information. 

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