The University of Nebraska annually presents two distinguished awards to recognize the entrepreneurial activities of students at the University of Nebraska and businesses with a link to the University. These awards are called the President’s Excellence Awards.
- The Walter Scott Entrepreneurial Business Award is designed to encourage existing businesses with a presence in Nebraska to create partnerships and links with the University of Nebraska in the area of technology. The winner is awarded $10,000.
- The Peter Kiewit Student Entrepreneurial Award is designed to recognize University of Nebraska students who have directed their energies, ideas, and talents toward community and business improvements with the creative and innovative use of information technology. The winner is awarded $2,500.
- 2017/2018 President’s Excellence Awards – Application Packet
- Application Portal and Sign in Directions (for nominators and NU student nominees)
- Application Portal and Sign in Directions (for business nominees)
- 2017/2018 Deadlines – President’s Excellence Awards
2016 Walter Scott Award Winner: Bulu Box
Founded in 2012 by Paul and Stephanie Jarrett, Bulu Box provides its subscribers a monthly box containing four to five product samples related to health and wellness. Customers can share their feedback on the products in exchange for reward points that can be used to purchase full-sized items on the Bulu Box website. Subscriber feedback is aggregated in real time via a software dashboard that allows brands to make data-driven decisions about product development and marketing. Today Bulu Box distributes up to 50,000 boxes of samples each month to subscribers across the country.
The Jarretts are both UNL graduates and maintain a close partnership with the university. Bulu Box offers numerous internship and job opportunities to university students; more than three-quarters of the company’s full-time staff are UNL graduates. The Jarretts and their team are frequent guest lecturers in UNL classes, serve as mentors to students, and host events that give students the opportunity to connect with the local startup community.
Bulu Box plans to use its prize money to create additional computer science-focused internships.
“Bulu Box is honored to accept the Walter J. Scott award from the University of Nebraska,” said Paul Jarrett, Bulu Box’s CEO, who has coined the hashtag #BangTheDrum to encourage entrepreneurs to share their stories. “Partnership between the university system and companies like Bulu Box fosters entrepreneurial spirit in students, offers local businesses a stellar pool of internship candidates, and it provides talented NU graduates an opportunity to build lasting careers in Nebraska.”
2016 Peter Kiewit Award Winner: Justin Kyser, co-founder, DivviMap
DivviMap connects drone mapping companies with customers through a mobile app that allows users to keep track of their maps on their smartphones.
Kyser, a senior in UNL’s College of Business Administration who grew up on a dairy farm near Beatrice, came up with the idea for DivviMap after seeing that drone mapping companies didn’t have the necessary infrastructure to share maps with customers in industries such as agriculture, where drone maps can help farmers and ranchers understand exactly what’s happening in their fields. Kyser identified the market opportunity after his experience co-founding Digital Sky, a leading drone company in Nebraska that provides drone services to the agriculture, film and video production, electrical utilities, and engineering/surveying industries.
Kyser earned his private pilot’s license in high school and later attended flight school, where he earned his commercial pilot’s license and an associate’s degree in aviation. He developed a passion for unmanned aviation and started down the entrepreneurial path by creating Kyser Aviation, a commercial drone company.
Kyser’s mentor at UNL is Samuel Nelson, an assistant professor of practice and interim director of the Center for Entrepreneurship.
“I’m extremely honored to have been awarded the Peter Kiewit Student Entrepreneurial Award,” Kyser said. “It’s amazing to me that a student like myself could have the access to resources through the university, and the entrepreneurial community, that I need to be able to pursue my passions. I definitely know that I wouldn’t be where I am without the support of my family and the awesome people who have helped me along the way.”