Raymond Ideas Challenge, Aggie PITCH Winner Claims Top Prize at Rice Business Plan Competition
Lara Robertson, May 15th, 2023
By: Lara Robertson
It’s been a busy and exciting few years for Bryton Praslicka ’19 and his startup, FluxWorks, most recently with his participation in and top tier success at the Rice Business Plan Competition. The competition, hosted annually by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, was held May 13-15 in Houston.
After three days of competition, Praslicka and FluxWorks walked away with the Grand Prize Investment Award of $350,000, sponsored by GOOSE Capital. Additionally, FluxWorks was named the overall winner of the Mercury Elevator Pitch Competition with a $1,000 prize, along with a $6,667 Baker Botts Legal Services In-Kind Prize and a $10,000 New York Technology Capital CFO Consulting In-Kind Prize.
Forty-two student-led startups from around the world, representing 35 universities and five countries, were invited to the 2023 competition, described as the world’s largest and richest intercollegiate student startup competition, where $3.4 million in prizes was awarded.
FluxWorks’ success has been rapid, but with an Aggie origin story full of Good Bull.
Founded in 2021 by Praslicka while pursuing his doctorate in electrical engineering, FluxWorks creates self-healing magnetic gearboxes that offer >99% proven efficiency, four-times quieter operation and unprecedented reliability. Their protected lubrication-free gear technology unlocks unparalleled performance everywhere from outer space, subsea, to the inside of the body. Their HUBZone-certified venture offers exclusive access to a range of defense and space opportunities.
As founder and CEO, Praslicka realized early on he was on to something with his initial idea and technology. He brought his idea, then simply named “Magnetic Gears,” to the Raymond Ideas Challenge hosted by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship in November 2021.
The challenge is designed to encourage students from across the university, representing a variety of colleges and majors, to explore entrepreneurship and foster development of an entrepreneurial mindset by way of their big idea, with no business plan or prototype required.
Up against 40 other ideas, Praslicka’s five-minute presentation and five minutes of Q&A showed the judges he was on to something with his idea. “Magnetic Gears” earned top honors and a cash prize of $2,500.
“I was interested in Raymond Ideas because I knew we got the judging forms back, and I was only looking forward to getting great feedback from the experienced judges to learn how to refine my presentation,” Praslicka said after the challenge. “I began my Ph.D. journey because I dreamt of developing technologies that would enable the transition to emission-free energy generation and transportation. This winning opportunity allowed my dreams to come true, and I’m continuing to seek more opportunities to grow. Winning with my idea meant that my work is bearing fruit!”
Fast forward just a few months to March 2022, and Praslicka would once again find himself as a finalist in a McFerrin Center-hosted competition — this time, Aggie PITCH. But rather than competing as “Magnetic Gears,” Praslicka had officially dubbed his startup “FluxWorks.”
Aggie PITCH aims to display the exceptional startups being developed by current and former students of Texas A&M. Originally launched in 2018, Aggie PITCH is the only university-wide business pitch competition and provides competing ventures the opportunity to pitch in front of possible investors, mentors, partners and judges with more than $35,000 awarded in prize funding. With full pitch divisions for both current students and former students, as well as a division specifically for elevator pitching, FluxWorks was up against five other current student teams in the full pitch division.
Prior to the competition, Praslicka noted, “A&M first gave us the education to develop the technology and business plan, which is a gift already. Receiving prize money for the business to purchase back our IP and begin product development would be stunning to us… showing that A&M would go above and beyond, supporting our new venture financially. We look forward to the valuable feedback and the people we get the chance to meet, regardless of the competition outcome.”
Praslicka’s hopes came true, and once again following a five-minute pitch and five minutes of Q&A, the judges voted in favor of FluxWorks, awarding them first place and $7,500.
“Winning to us means that people are excited about our technology,” Praslicka said immediately following the win. “People believe in our technology. And winning this demonstrates that, and that’s really incredible.”
Later that spring, Praslicka would go on to receive the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship’s Future Texas Business Legend Award from the Texas Business Hall of Fame.
Looking back on the steps that brought him to the Rice Business Pitch Competition, Praslicka responded, “Beginning at Raymond Ideas years ago gave me access to real feedback that I could use for Aggie Pitch. Feedback from Aggie Pitch took us into the next competition and the next. Before you know it, I was seeing some of the same judges I had seen before at Raymond Ideas, and they were thrilled to see how much we had grown!”
“Bryton’s journey with FluxWorks is exactly what the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship envisions for our students,” Blake Petty ’98, executive director for the McFerrin Center said. “Great businesses can begin with an idea, and that’s the intentional focus of our annual Ideas Challenge — just the idea. Then as their idea grows and develops and matures, they might move on to Aggie PITCH and other pitch competitions. It’s our goal and intent, that Aggies leverage those experiences, momentum, funding and feedback to strive to gain the next step on their entrepreneurial journey. We’re all extremely proud of Bryton and FluxWorks and look forward to seeing him back on McFerrin’s roster again — perhaps next time on the Aggie 100.”
About McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship
The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship serves as the hub for entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University. The McFerrin Center’s goal is to enhance entrepreneurial education by providing training, networking and assistance to enterprising current students, faculty, veterans and former students.
The McFerrin Center enables the startup and growth of countless businesses and provides competitive opportunities, professional development and financial support to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Aggie community through the support of a robust volunteer mentor network, corporate supporters, faculty and staff.
The McFerrin Center defines entrepreneurship as an attitude that acts upon opportunity. In this spirit, the McFerrin Center strives to deliver programs and events that are inspiring, engaging, motivating and life-changing. This philosophy has resulted in the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship offering more than 30 unique programs each year that positively impact the lives of thousands of students, veterans and other professionals seeking to blaze their own trail as an entrepreneur.
Media Contact: Lara Robertson, communications manager, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, email@example.com