The second annual ‘Spark Your Startup’ Business Pitch contest held in Barnesville, MN, has announced the top three winners!

First place and $1,000 was awarded to Protosthetics, a developer and manufacturer of prosthetic devices using 3-D printing and myoelectric control.

Second place and $250 was presented to SteveCo., a manufacturer of a collapsible two-wheeled car tow dolly called Collaps-a-tow.

Third place and $200 went to Jumpr, Inc., a trip sharing community application for riders and drivers. Jumpr, Inc. also won the People’s Choice award and an additional $250, which was decided upon by public online voting.

Transforming the world of prosthetics


Cooper Bierscheid, co-founder of first place winner Protosthetics, said they plan to use the award money to further develop their product, PAL (Printed Artificial Arm) as well as give structure to their business.

“This experience will definitely help take our idea for affordable prosthetics to realization,” Bierscheid said. “We want to go to market with the prosthetic device to help out children all over the world.”

Protosthetics was formed after Bierscheid and a team of engineers at North Dakota State University created a 3D-printed prosthetic arm for only $400, making it much more affordable for their first client – a 3-year-old named Jameson. Jameson was paying $25K for his prosthetic arms; the average price is around $30K.

Their story won them an OZY Genius award, which included $10,000 and a video feature that will be released this month. Since that award, the team has expanded from a handful of students to over 15 people. They were also recently accepted to the Innovate ND Program, which will help accelerate their business planning, Bierscheid said.

Branching from their success, on Monday the inaugural NDSU Proventure class will meet for the first time, with the sole purpose of exploring the technology of prosthetic and other medical devices.

3D Printed prosthetic arm

As first place winner of the Barnesville Business Pitch, Protosthetics is also eligible for a $10,000 forgivable loan from the Barneseville Economic Development Authority, if they choose to open a business within the city by March 1, 2016.

Bierscheid said that the team plans to discuss this and has not yet made a decision, although he mentioned that “it is a great opportunity…the city of Barnesville is a great town and within close proximity to Fargo.”

Judges are impressed

All entries are the in the pre-revenue stage of business and filled out an online application to enter the contest. Applicants were evaluated, and narrowed down to the top entries. On Thursday, Sept. 3, these business startups made their pitch in front of a panel of contest sponsor judges at Barnesville’s historic Old City Hall. Each startup had five minutes to give their presentation, and judges had four minutes to ask questions. Questions were then opened up to the audience.

Judges said they were impressed with the quality of entrants.

“It was extremely interesting to hear the ideas presented as part of this contest and see the potential each one has in the market place.” said Becky Newell, Vice President of Development at Stoneridge Software, and a 2015 contest judge. “We’ve seen some real gems here.”

Barnesville Business Pitch sponsors are Stoneridge Software, Dean’s Bulk Service, Crown Appraisals, Barnesville Economic Development Authority, and the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation.

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Marisa Jackels