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STARKVILLE, Miss.–Mississippi State student entrepreneurs again hold top honors in a recent statewide business plan competition.

Two student-led technology startups won first and second places in the sixth annual Mississippi New Venture Challenge Competition.

Led by John L. Gazzini of Birmingham, Ala., and Read T. Sprabery of Olive Branch, both May computer engineering graduates of the university, Nimbus Mobile took the top honor. Gazzini’s degree was awarded magna cum laude; Sprabery’s, summa cum laude.

A designer of mobile applications, Nimbus Mobile is about to launch “FeatherServe” that allows pool service companies to more easily and efficiently manage their operations.

Second-place honors went to Sensei Mobile, LLC, founded by Matthew M. Hoelter of Collierville, Tenn., another spring computer engineering graduate. He is launching a service called Chat Katana that provides an anonymous one-on-one messaging service through a native phone application.

The annual competition is sponsored by Innovate Mississippi, a Ridgeland-based nonprofit organization that promotes statewide innovation and technology-based economic development.

“It’s gratifying to see our students continue a tradition of excellence,” said Abby Thompson, entrepreneurship program coordinator in MSU’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer.

For the past three years, Mississippi State students have won eight out of nine places in the competition, she added.

Eleven teams from the land-grant institution competed in this year’s New Venture Challenge–a clear sign of the entrepreneurial culture on campus, said OETT Director Gerald Nelson.

“We have taken purposeful steps to make innovation and entrepreneurship priorities. We have been building that ecosystem steadily with students, faculty and staff,” Nelson said.

Thompson said teamwork also has been a key factor in fostering innovation.

“The MSU Entrepreneurship Center Advisory Board, the Jack Hatcher Entrepreneurship Certificate Program in the Bagley College of Engineering, the College of Business, and the Thad Cochran Endowment for Entrepreneurship provide vital support for student entrepreneurship,” she said.

For additional information on the Office of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer, see www.oett.msstate.edu.

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