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Pastry Company Wins $40K in U Business Competition

Cowboy Kolaches won the $40,000 grand prize at the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge at the U on April 11, 2014.

April 16, 2014 – The Utah Entrepreneur Series concluded Tuesday night with Cowboy Kolaches winning a $40,000 cash prize offered by competition sponsor Zions Bank. The cash award was the grand prize for the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, which is the third and final event in the Utah Entrepreneur Series. The series is a student-run division of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute and the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah.

Cowboy Kolaches, which is from Brigham Young University, has developed a machine to mass produce kolaches for distribution. Currently, a bakery can only produce up to 90 kolaches an hour by hand. Cowboy Kolaches’ machine produces up to 480 an hour with a higher consistency and quality. Kolaches are a sweet, buttery pastry that are stuffed with an assortment of foods.

“The $40,000 will change my life,” said Derek Johnson, CEO/founder of Cowboy Kolaches. “I’ll be able to bring my machine out of the prototype stage and move into full production in early fall. Many bakeries are waiting for kolaches – now we’ll be able to deliver.”, a company with a free tool for telemedicine, led the teams from the University of Utah, bringing home $5,000 from Zions Bank for the Best Written Business Plan. They have a tool for providing health consultations online using video conferencing.

“ is currently being used in a clinical study at the University of Utah in low-risk prenatal care,” said Josh Hadley, an MBA student and team member. “We’ve received great feedback from physicians and patients. There are always ways to improve to better meet the needs of patients and physicians. The $5,000 will allow us to continue to innovate and change the health-care industry.”

The Utah Entrepreneur Challenge awards banquet marks the end of the 2013-2014 season.

“This year’s contestants were enormously competitive, and it was an honor to be a part of the awards process,” said Nick Roberts, student co-chair of the Utah Entrepreneur Series. “The Lassonde Institute provides so much support for student teams and event administrators.”

For more information on the Utah Entrepreneur Series click here.

Utah Entrepreneur Challenge Awards

  • Grand Prize ($40,000 from Zions Bank) – Cowboy Kolaches, Brigham Young University – developed a machine to mass produce kolaches (slightly sweet, buttery pastries that are stuffed) for distribution to food retailers.
  • Best Written Business Plan ($5,000 from Zions Bank) –, University of Utah – a telemedicine tool that is HIPA compliant, free, easily customizable and simple to use.
  • Best Presentation ($5,000 from Zions Bank) — nanoKeys, Utah State University — a company working to provide for various keys to be scanned digitally and then resized to all fit in a small, sleek device.
  • Best Technology ($2,500 from Stoel Rives) — 6S Medical, University of Utah — an improved fascial closing device for laparoscopic surgery.
  • People’s Choice Video Award ($1,000 from Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corp.) – nanoKeys.
  • Incubator Award (in-kind services from Really Epic Ventures) — Alterniity GmbH, University of Utah — a virtual-gaming solution that incorporates both physical and cognitive training to prevent the onset and effects of Alzheimer’s.
  • Best Bootstrap ($1,500 from Actium Partners) – AeroGym Fitness System, Utah State University – a portable fitness device that uses elastic bands and weights.
  • Best Speed Pitch, tie ($250) — Cowboy Kolaches.
  • Best Speed Pitch, tie ($250) — Veritas Medical, University of Utah — a laser device that uses light to disinfect medical catheters.
  • Best Tabling Award ($500) — nanoKeys.