Tribute to stricken cousin sparks winning product at Canyon Challenge

An elated Sydney Arrasmith holds a prize check of $2,500 for her DroolyBib, which won first place during the Canyon Challenge at Grand Canyon University's Sunset Auditorium.

Photos by Ralph Freso / Slideshow

Sydney Arrasmith started to think about producing bibs designed for those afflicted with cerebral palsy during her senior year of high school in Idaho.

That dream will become a reality, as Arrasmith’s Droolybib won the $2,500 first-place prize, as decided by three judges, at the Canyon Challenge on Friday before an energized crowd at Sunset Auditorium.

“It's insane just being able to support people with cerebral palsy and women in business,” said Arrasmith, who was motivated after learning a cousin had been diagnosed with the condition shortly after birth and believed a product was needed to aid those who developed rashes and other ailments as the result of drooling.

“It's so meaningful to be able to empower all of these people just for my business and my products.”

Evan Findley (left) is congratulated by Isaac Ballew after winning the People's Choice Award during the Canyon Challenge.

Arrasmith was the only female among the five groups that competed for $6,000 in prizes in the semiannual entrepreneurial competition which mirrors the popular "Shark Tank" television show.

Bash Events, an app co-founded by CEO Evan Findley, which helps people find events and form authentic relationships, earned a second-place prize of $1,500, as decided by the judges, and an additional $1,000 for the People’s Choice Award, voted by the audience via QR code.

Isaac Ballew and Steele Shumway of Outback Dummy Co., a roping business, earned the $1,000 third-place award as chosen by judges Kyle Brown, president and chief investment officer of Trinity Capital; Trinity CEO Gerry Harder; and entrepreneur and local investor Aaron Klusman.

Each of the five competitors spoke for nearly five minutes, elaborating on the need for their products, with their pitches supported by statistics and charts on a large screen.

Judges (from left) Aaron Klusman, Kyle Brown and Gerry Harder listen as students make their presentations.

After their sales pitches, each contestant answered questions from the judges.

At a competition rehearsal, Arrasmith didn't respond promptly and decisively after IDEA Club President Connor Vicary calmly peppered her and the other contestants with questions about their products and potential flaws.

But in addition to illustrating the effectiveness of her product over a traditional brand, Arrasmith at the actual event answered questions about how her formula for setting a price, as well as how she would handle employment issues, should help her product swell in popularity.

The rehearsal “helps so much,” said Arrasmith, whose body language suggested she was more prepared for the judges’ questions than Vicary’s inquires on Monday. “I left there pretty anxious, to be honest. I went home and I researched a ton.

“But just having those questions in the back of my head throughout the week and knowing what kinds of things the judges might ask helped me be so much more prepared.”

Steele Shumway, co-founder of Outback Dummy Co., talks about the business' calf-roping practice dummy.

Arrasmith credited Canyon Ventures Founding Director Robert Vera for helping her set a price for Droolybib ($14) that would allow her to make an “appropriate profit” with the potential to earmark some of the proceeds to service quality organizations and assist those with cerebral palsy and other ailments.

Arrasmith said her bibs are machine washable and will not be limited to infants.

“It’s more than just babies and toddlers who need bibs,” said Arrasmith, who said her cousin tends to tilt his head, which requires special attention.

Arrasmith, a native of Idaho who plans to graduate this spring with a degree in entrepreneurship, said Droolybibs will be available on Shopify in January.

“Additionally, I want to build a prominent presence as a woman-led business, fostering encouragement and empowerment for other female entrepreneurs, like myself, with a truly good idea to provide a foolproof, hassle-free experience,” Arrasmith told the audience.

Once Arrasmith arrived at GCU and discovered resources at the Colangelo College of Business, “I realized that it's just that easy to go out and start something new and make a difference.”

Meanwhile, Finley based the need for his app from a 2021 Harvard College study that found that 61% of young adults in America are afflicted with serious loneliness, largely from toxic platforms that have failed at “promoting real world interactions” and have engulf individuals’ time.”

Tim Kelley, Canyon Angels Chair and Colangelo College of Business assistant professor, welcomes students and guest to Canyon Challenge.

His target market included college students, college clubs and organizations and local retail businesses in college towns.

“We've got a lot of big updates coming in January,” said Finley, a finance major who will graduate next spring. “Next year is going to be our hard launch, and we’ll reach out to companies and organizations. We’re going to be going after users like no one else ever has before.”

Outback Dummy made considerable progress despite not physically working on their product until the end of October, Ballew said.

The company emphasized the mobility and low cost of their product, which they plan to target to many of the 135 colleges that field rodeo teams.

“We had an idea,” said Shumway, who continued to rehearse the company’s pitch with Ballew until about 30 minutes before the start of Friday’s event. “We grew it into a business, we pitched it twice, and all of a sudden we're into the Canyon Challenge and then we had a week to prepare for that.

Tyler Hildebrand presents his Grand Connections app during the Canyon Challenge.

“And we still have to build products for other people for customers. And so there's a lot of going into this, and it's cool to see it grow and the process is super fun.”

As the judges huddled outside the auditorium to assess the merits of the candidates, a fashion show displayed clothing from Return to Eden by Elise Whitman, Anomaly Co. by Kate Hames, Fellowship Fits by Andrew Bussmann, Loozer by Henry Hanson, OMWTTT by Jacob Watts and Ellavate by Lela Lewis. Those students operate with the intent to devote a portion of their business' proceeds to charity.

Canyon Challenge capped an eventful day for GCU's Colangelo School of Business.

The IDEA Cub reported Friday’s Marketplace saw about $35,000 in merchandise sales, raising its total to $110,000 over three sales days during the fall semester.

GCU News Senior Writer Mark Gonzales can be reached at [email protected]

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