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        College, Pitch Competitions

        AbGlo wins 2023 Halloween Business Idea Pitch competition

        November 6, 2023 By New Venture Accelerator communications office

        All News


        Student pitching idea to judges

        The 5th Annual Halloween pitch competition, hosted by the New Venture Accelerator and the Harbert College of Business, saw 20 teams, comprised of 35 team members, representing 7 colleges, compete for $5,000 in seed funding, before a panel of industry professional judges inside the Broadway Event Space and Theater.

        When the scores were tallied, AbGlo–Six Pack, Strong Back came out on top and was awarded $2,000 of the prize money pool.  

        AbGlo, co-founded by Holli Michaels, Courtney Montague, (Samuel Ginn College of Engineering) and Marianne Madsen, is a fitness device that corrects lumbar position during core strength exercises, empowering trainers, and healthcare professionals to monitor the activation through visual and sensory feedback. It utilizes a flexible sensor that triggers lights, vibration, and optional audio feedback once pressed flat by the lumbar area through the engagement of core muscles. Bluetooth connectivity facilitates real-time communication of the user's postural position. They zeroed in on strengthening the transverse abdominus and pelvic floor muscles to significantly alleviate low back pain and improve fitness outcomes.

        AbGlo background graphic

        Motivated by one of the co-founders’ own career ending injury, the AbGlo team recognized there were more people like her - in need of help but unable to afford it. They believed that back rehabilitation should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial situation. Their aim was to enhance the lives of all those suffering from pain in the most efficient way possible.

        The lack of high-quality, affordable rehabilitation solutions inspired the AbGlo team to create a one-time cost tool for back rehabilitation. Following 14 years of research and practical experience, they produced the first AbGlo prototype in 2021 and initiated user trials in 2022. Their product has been endorsed by Dr. Ryan Rogers, DC of Santa Barbara, CA, and has been user tested by over 20 clients for strength and rehabilitation at MadFitness Santa Barbara.

        Other teams that received funding included:

        • MenuMatch, founded by Jessica Bloodsworth (Harbert College), is a mobile application that assists people who are impacted by food allergies, food intolerances, and dietary restrictions by finding restaurant options and menu items that fit their dietary needs in a more credible and streamlined way, received $1,000.
        • Glory EV, founded by Olkaris Marandu (Harbert College), offers a modular solution to expand the accessibility of EV charging stations, received $500.
        • Focus Friends, founded by Lauren Stansell (Harbert College ), is an online platform that provides a supportive community and comprehensive resources for individuals with ADHD, received $500.
        • Elixa Industries, co-founded by Leo Hall and Sripriya Kallam (Harbert College / College of Liberal Arts), received the Special Category Award in the amount of $1,000 provided by the Thomas Walter Center for Technology Management.  Their robotically automated turbostratic graphene production process is designed to reduce harm to humans due to the handling of carbon materials in the graphene production process while producing larger, higher quality graphene flakes at extreme quantities.
        Elixa Industries students holding mock check

        Harbert student Sripriya Kallam (left) and her co-founder Leo Hall won a $1,000 prize at the Halloween pitch competition sponsored by New Venture Accelerator and Harbert College.

        “The Halloween pitch competition has grown exponentially since we began this concept in 2019 and the business ideas just keep getting better,” said Lou Bifano, director of the New Venture Accelerator. “This competition continues to diversify itself among the academic disciplines across campus, including business, engineering, forestry, human sciences, liberal arts, veterinary medicine, and architecture, design, and construction. Entrepreneurship and innovation continue to blossom across the region, and we’d like to think that Auburn University is playing a big role.”

        A special thanks to Regions Bank for their financial support of the Halloween pitch competition.


        Special recognition and appreciation go to the judges who supported this year’s competition:

        - Jenny Bedard, Lazer Logistics

        - Delphine Carter, Founder & CEO, Boulo Solutions

        - Tim Denison, President, GDI, LLC

        - Sam Eskildsen, Main Street Family Care

        - Ben Finley, The Finley Firm

        - Scott Flynn, Faber Castell USA

        - Mike Kendrick, Kendrick Capital Management

        - Whitney Lee, Outreach Programs Administrator, Auburn University

        - Ron Schier, Owner, Another Broken Egg

        - Virginia Trinkle, Co-founder & CEO, Werkx

        - Necole Turner, JP Morgan Chase

        - Jason Wilson, CEO, Coldwater Mountain Brew Pub

        Feedback that competing teams share every year is that while the prize money is important, the insights and offers of alumni support, that will aid them in their longer-term business planning efforts, are by far the most valuable parts of the experience.  It proves once again that Auburn people always comeback and they always give back.

        NEXT UP: The 10th Annual  Tiger Cage, where teams will compete for $80,000 in startup capital.

        Applications to compete in Tiger Cage are due by November 15, with the competition kicking-off on Friday, January 26.

        To register for Tiger Cage, click  HERE or contact Lou Bifano, Director of the New Venture Accelerator at for more information.


        The Harbert College of Business which is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Raymond and Kathryn Harbert's transformational naming gift, is a nationally ranked hub of undergraduate, graduate and continuing business education that is inspiring the next generation of business leaders. Our world-class faculty deliver unparalleled academic rigor in the classroom, while our research-driven scholarship advances thought leadership and best practice across business disciplines. The largest college on Auburn's campus, Harbert enrolls more than 6,900 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.