UCF Joust New Venture Competition

Dean’s Welcome

Break out your lances, Knights, it’s time to Joust! In ancient times, the joust was a competition filled with pageantry. A competition that set apart the best rained and most accomplished knights from the rest of the realm. Our Joust is no different.

The Joust is open to any student at UCF. It is faciliated by our faculty and judged by highly successful business professionals. It takes courage to enter, research to prepare and swagger to win. Comfort zones are exceeded. Vision is married with data. Egos are risked. Failure is almost certain. Only one team walks away with the top prize.

This year will not disappoint as our student entrepreneurs will be delivering some of the most impressive venture proposals we’ve seen in the competition. The interaction and advice our competitors receive from our esteemed judges, faculty and staff are priceless. The Joust experience differentiates the contestants from the less adventurous UCF student. As everyone knows, a good scar makes for a great story.

Go Knights! Charge On!

Paul Jarley, Ph.D | Dean – Official Signature

Paul Jarley, Ph.D.


How to Apply

To begin the application you will have to log into or create an account on our Startuptree platform (this only takes a minute!). Once you are logged in, the application requires contestants to address a series of basic questions about their venture ideas including:
  • Problem - Describe the problem and customer frustrations you intend to address
  • Solution - Describe how your offerings (products/services) address the problem
  • Market Opportunity - Describe your target market, market size, and potential growth
  • Business Model - Describe how you will you earn revenue
  • Competition - Describe current competitors/alternatives and how your solution is better
  • Marketing & Sales - Describe how people will learn about and acquire/buy your offerings
  • Team - Describe your team members (individuals are welcome to apply)
  • Current Status - Describe progress you've made interacting with users, customers, partners, etc.
  • Financial Projections & Milestones - Describe your path to sustainability and success (3-5 years)

Answers must be concise, limited to several sentences each (there are character limits for each question). Contestants will be provided feedback from our application review judges when we announce the proposals that advance to our semi-final round.

Also, our mentoring staff at the Blackstone LaunchPad in the UCF Student Union Lobby is available to help contestants review their business models, financial models, presentation strategies, and pitch decks. We encourage contestants to visit our free, confidential, expert startup coaches to select and schedule coaching sessions. Past experience shows that coaching significantly contributes to students' odds of qualifying and earning awards. If you have questions, contact us at LaunchPad@ucf.edu or call (407) 823-2642.


Judging Criteria

  • Proposed Product/Service and Market Opportunity (25%)
  • Revenue Model and Financial Projections (25%)
  • Team and Execution Plan (25%)
  • Overall Impact (25%)


Awards & Sponsors

The anticipated cash awards to be distributed among our finalists are as follows.

  1. 1st Place – $12,000
  2. 2nd Place – $7,000
  3. 3rd Place – $4,500
  4. 4th Place – $2,000

Generous community sponsors also provide critical in-kind contributions of business services to the 1st place venture.


Important Dates

 Information Sessions
  Application Workshops
  Application Deadline
  • March 4, 2024 at 4:00 p.m. ET
  Competition Dates
  • EApril 3, 2024: Joust Semi-Finals
    Held at the College of Business at 3:00 p.m. ET. Attendance is by invitation only.
  • EApril 11, 2024: Joust Finals
    Held at the Celeste Hotel on the UCF Campus at 3:00 p.m. ET. Attendance will be open to registered guests.

The Agenda

  Joust Finals Location

The Celeste Hotel at UCF, across Parking Lot A.
Need directions?

  Contestants and Judges Check-In

Contestant and Judge check-in will begin at 1:30 p.m. ET.

  Welcome and Introduction

We welcome participants and review event details beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET.


Joust presentations will begin at approximately 2:20 p.m. and end by 3:40 p.m. ET.

  Judge Deliberations and Reception

Judge deliberation and the reception will begin at approximately 4:40 p.m. ET.

  Winners Announced

Winners will be announced at approximately 5:00 p.m. ET.

Judging Criteria

  • EProposed Product/Service and Market Opportunity (25%)
  • ERevenue Model and Financial Projections (25%)
  • ETeam and Execution Plan (25%)
  • EOverall Impact (25%)

Awards & Sponsors

The anticipated cash awards to be distributed among our finalists are as follows:

  • 1st Place – $12,000
  • 2nd Place – $7,000
  • 3rd Place – $4,000
  • 4th Place – $2,000

Generous community sponsors also provide critical in-kind contributions of business services to the 1st place venture.

Thank you to our in-kind sponsors!

Central Florida’s Finest Service Providers

A Special Thank You to The Michael & Colleen O'Donnell Family Foundation

Join us in extending heartfelt gratitude to the Michael & Colleen O’Donnell Family Foundation for their remarkable contributions to the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. Their unwavering support has empowered aspiring entrepreneurs, fostering innovation and leadership excellence. With their generosity, we’ve been able to provide invaluable resources and mentorship, shaping the future of entrepreneurship.

Joust Finalists for 2024

Unbound Disability Claims

Unbound Disability Claims

ZuLeris Interactive

ZuLeris Interactive

Emergency Insights

Emergency Insights

CyberColosseum Solutions

CyberColosseum Solutions

Finals Judges

Kevin Miller
President & CEO

Addition Financial

Mark Norato ’91
Vice President

North American Partners in Anesthesia

Ed Schons

The President of the Florida High Tech Corridor and Assistant VP for University Relations at UCF

John Paccione ’95

Red Horse Ventures

Jacques Fu ’07

PETE Learning

Michael O’Donnell ’09
Founder CEO

MOD Ventures LLC

Joust Semi-Finals Competitors

Emergency Insights

Emergency Insights revolutionizes hazard risk mitigation by providing precise assessments for both individuals and counties. For users, we offer insights into property risks, aiding in informed decisions about purchases and disaster preparedness. Our annual hazard reports for counties assist in strategic planning and resource allocation. Unlike existing solutions, we provide up-to-date data, comprehensive coverage, and user-friendly accessibility at an affordable price.


CallRespondAI offers an AI-powered solution for contact centers, featuring a cutting-edge receptionist driven by advanced machine learning algorithms. We reach our target market through various channels, including social media, industry events, and partnerships. Our tiered subscription pricing model charges clients based on usage "tokens," ensuring cost-effectiveness. With seamless interactions, tailored support, and stable financial solutions, CallRespondAI provides reliable contact center support and a trustworthy receptionist experience for callers.

Tank Sense

Our product is an IoT-based monitoring and maintenance system designed for residential and commercial septic systems. By leveraging real-time data analytics and AI-driven insights, we aim to extend the lifespan of septic systems, reduce the need for costly repairs, minimize environmental impact, and improve overall system efficiency.

Bala Bottles

Bala Bottles is an insulated dual bottles for an active lifestyle. Each 32oz bottle features a yin-yang design with screw caps to prevent spills. Stay balanced, stay refreshed with two drinks in one bottle. Empower your active lifestyle with convenience and versatility. Bala fosters community through wellness-focused social media content.

Red Room Participating Judges

Serguei Melnik '98


Nutriband Inc.

Jim Atchison '92

Former President & CEO

Sea World Parks & Entertainment

Mark Plaumann '74

Co-Founder & Managing Member

Greyhawke Capital Advisors LLC

Gary Capton

Vice President of Sales

Fairwinds Credit Union

Snag Speed

Snag Speed re-imagines nightlife reservations with an intuitive app that allows users to effortlessly book sections, pre-order drinks, and skip lines using Snag Speed Session Pass. With group bookings and club bundle deals, enjoy fast entry and cashless transactions all from your phone. Our data-driven approach fosters transparency between clubs and users, ensuring seamless experiences while prioritizing safety and security.

Unbound Disability Claims

Imagine facing a shocking cancer diagnosis after seeking treatment for stomach pain, leading to job loss and financial strain. Applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) becomes a daunting task, taking hours to complete online, only to be denied after months of waiting. Appeals bring no relief, as savings dwindle, debts mount, and health deteriorates. This struggle is all too common for 62% of SSD applicants. Our solution? The Disability Claim Builder, streamlining the process to secure faster approvals and much-needed benefits, akin to TurboTax for the SSD industry.

Hyper Bionics

Hyper Bionics (HB) designs and manufactures 3D printed wearable bionic arms, like the MARK 1 (Mechanical Arm with Robust Kinematics), to ease heavy lifting. These arms enhance efficiency and reduce injury risk, benefiting moving companies, delivery drivers, and other heavy-lifting jobs. For instance, employees can effortlessly lift furniture or packages by activating the arm. Additionally, the bionic arm serves as protection against heavy objects. Future plans include extending research to 3D printed leg supports with linear actuators, aiming to restore mobility for paralyzed individuals.

Kaizen Energy

Kaizen Energy fills a market gap by offering an energy drink with protein, providing value with natural caffeine and clean ingredients. With 150mg of natural caffeine and 20g of protein, our 2-in-1 formula stands out as a budget-friendly option for health-conscious consumers seeking a natural energy and protein boost. Our mission embodies continuous improvement, reflecting our commitment to steady growth and product enhancement.


Yellow Room Participating Judges

Laurette Koellner '77

Corporate Board Member

Celestica Inc., Nucor Corporation, Papa John’s International, Inc, and the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

Kent Adams '85



Carl Little

Associate Director of Development

University of Central Florida

Tyler Grumbles '05

Partner, Investment Consultant

AndCo Consulting

Theseus Financial

Our axiom is simple: "People don't want to think about money." At Theseus Financial, we make it effortless for users to maximize their credit card rewards and consolidate gift cards. Our goal is to empower users to focus less on finances and more on enjoying life. With minimal effort, we help customers get the most out of their purchases, putting more money and rewards in their pockets and reducing financial stress. As we expand, we aim to offer additional personal finance services to further this mission.

CyberColosseum Solutions

CyberColosseum is a dynamic training platform immersing your information security team in realistic cyber warfare scenarios. Facing simulations of real-world threat actors like those behind major breaches, your team hones their skills in a custom environment mirroring your company's infrastructure. Unlike static content that quickly becomes outdated, our platform delivers up-to-date threats in a high-stakes practice setting. Our mission? Equipping your team to defend against cyber threats and safeguard your company from becoming the next victim.

Unastahili Kuonwa (You Deserve to be Seen)

Unastahili Kuonwa aims to empower communities in Kenya and beyond by creating accessible artwork that celebrates cultural diversity and heritage. Through an organization of local visual artists, we'll conduct workshops in Kenyan villages, teaching participants to craft their own empowering imagery. By fostering skills in artistic expression and entrepreneurship, we aim to promote cultural identity, economic empowerment, and sustainability within communities. Ultimately, our goal is to cultivate a vibrant and inclusive artistic community that honors Kenyan culture. The artwork will be shared globally through virtual exhibitions.


Our mission at H2FLO is to empower our customers with an eco-friendly and efficient water management technology, enabling them to significantly reduce their water bills while actively contributing to the global sustainability efforts. We are able to do this by using our smart water management technology, traditional water meters measure by volume and cannot tell the difference between water and air, our product ensures accurate readings at the water meter by creating a laminar flow at the water line and compressing the air.

Blue Room Participating Judges

Derek DeSalvia '03

Chief Customer Officer

Hilton Grand Vacation

Harry Morehead '87

Executive Vice President

Thrifty Rents, Inc.

James Hawley '95

CEO & Founder

NextPath Career Partners

Jeff Borysiewicz '95

President & Founder

Corona Cigar Company

Crcl | Social Media Reimagined

Our company, Creating Real LLC, aims to revolutionize social interaction through our primary app, Crcl. Unlike traditional social media, Crcl prioritizes real-life connections by encouraging users to add only those they know personally. We uphold industry-leading standards, including stringent security measures and a user-friendly interface that prioritizes mental health and well-being. Our goal is not to compete with existing social networks but to establish a new standard for social interaction platforms. By promoting offline connections and community engagement, we foster a healthier relationship between users and the platform.


Studies by the American Cancer Society state that broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen helps adequately protect skin on sunny days. Because BulletPROOFED is a sports/men’s sunscreen it needs to be travel sized in order to entice the target market to carry it. BulletPROOFED sunscreen would use ingredients to act as a skin care product aiding in replenishing skin with necessary minerals and vitamins. This piece is second to the basis of the product, which is to protect men from harmful UV rays. I bring to you the Travel sized BulletPROOFED SPF30 sunscreen. Throw it into the motorcycle bags for guys on the on go!

ZuLeris Interactive

ZuLeris creates interactive electromagnetic warfare (EMW) virtual training environments (VTE) to supplement live learning systems. In our constructive VTE, users can educate, train, and rehearse scenarios to accelerate learning and achieving superiority in their field.

Sun Rover

Sun Rover is a lightweight aluminum trailer with a foldable solar panel array and battery pack. This will sustainably provide mobile power to off grid areas. The silent, clean, and light trailer will replace the loud, dirty, and heavy diesel generators commonly used.

Purple Room Participating Judges

Stephanie Suggs



Bill Kehoe '91

Real Estate Broker

NextHome Platinum

Jim Balaschak '86


Beresfor Ventures, LLC

Cameron Marsh '13

Managing Partner

BottomLine Clarity

Application Judges

Doug Bailey

Bailey’s Entertainment Group

Drew Belani
Founder & Broker Associate

Urban Nooks

Harry Morehead
Executive Vice President

Thrifty Rents, Inc.

Jarrod Ethridge
Real Estate Attorney and Closing Agent

The Orlando Law Group, PL.

Jason Quintana
Director, Corporate Strategy and Partnerships


Jennifer McKinley
Program Director, Florida High Tech Corridor

University of Central Florida

Jesse Wolfe

Wolfepack Ventures

Jim Alafat

Keystone Financial Company

Josh Lazar
Founder and Chief Everything Officer


Larry Cohen
Partner, Executive Recruiter

Integrated Financial Staffing

Michael Herman
Director of Construction, Store Development, Central Division


Mike Felix
Co-Founder, Board Member, Advisor

Black Orlando Tech

Sam Baker


Scott Vedder
Résumé and Interview Support, Military-to-Civilian Career Transition

The COMMIT Foundation

Shanequa Bernard
Instructor, Entertainment Management

University of Central Florida, Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Joust Winners’ Updates

VIP Hard Seltzer
2023 Winner

Connor Huseman, Nicholas Martins, Mazon Youness

Wriggle Brew
2022 Winner

Samuel Baker

2021 Winner

Derek Saltzman, Mason Mincey

We Are What We Eat (WAWWE)
2019 Winner

Rafaela Frota

Thor ORE
2018 Winner

Dylan Weitzman, Brandon Carpenter

Yaupon Brothers American Tea Co.
2017 Winner

Bryon White, Kyle White

Capacitech Energy, LLC
2016 Winner

Joe Sleppy

Talon Simulations
2015 Winner