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Video game company wins 2014 Startup Showcase

John Luke and Rob Martin

Startup Showcase winner John Luke, right, with 2013 winner Rob Martin, co-founder of Open Source Classroom LLC.

The 2014 Startup Showcase was a smashing success. The community showed up with great excitement and support for Illinois State University’s newest crop of student entrepreneurs

Student finalists representing four different colleges across Illinois State’s campus presented Friday, November 7, for nearly $90,000 in professional services and mentorship. John Luke, a graduate student from the Department of English, was the big winner with his company, Interactive Game Education, which develops and publishes video games that teach classical literature.

The prize package he won included a one-year membership in Bloomington-Normal Angel Investor Network, a website and ad buying package from Mavidea Technology Group, assistance with accounting and fundraising from Emerging Business Services, a 30-second HD commercial from Run Media, one-year membership at Slingshot CoWork, an advertising package from Great Plains Media, startup formation documents and cash from the Singleton Law Firm, a meeting etiquette workshop from the Etiquette Training Institute of Central Illinois, a lifetime pro subscription from internrocket, and 3-D printing services from Open Source Classroom.

“Without the generosity of these special folks from around our community, this event could not be what it is, and the future of these student startups would not be so bright. We are very thankful for such tremendous support from the local community,” said Doan Winkel, associate director of programs for Illinois State’s George R. and Martha Means Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, which hosts this annual event.

Brandon Frisch and Cristian Sandu captured second place with SpeakEazy, which offers a cure for people’s greatest fear: public speaking.

Nick Laskey and Jack Sutherland took third place with Ideafeed, which enables teams to solve together and strives to give a voice to the voiceless in team environments.

Martin Bobak and James Glavas placed fourth with Coursensei, which is a platform for student and teacher collaboration.

In addition to the competition, this year’s attendees were also treated to updates from a number of previous year’s standout startups. Brian Jesse updated the audience on the progress of internrocket, which is a micro-project platform where careerists and small business can collide to achieve results efficiently. Rob Martin, last year’s big winner, shared his progress to over $60,000 in revenue over the past year with Open Source Classroom LLC.

Katie Gottesman, an Illinois State alum and founder of Commuter Advertising, moderated a keynote conversation with Kasey Gandham and Mike Shannon, co-founders of Packback Books. Kasey and Mike won the 2011 Startup Showcase, and went on to land a deal with Mark Cuban on Shark Tank and subsequent investments. They shared details of their journey from students to startup superstars and showed their Shark Tank episode, which always brings a laugh from the viewer.

The day ended as it should, celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship and highlighting how alive it is within the students across ISU’s campus.

See more photos from the 2014 Startup Showcase.

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