UP students Nick Ost and Paul Dilley win $100K Challenge Venture Competition with their business Townie Shades, a regionally inspired brand of sunglasses

Franz Center

April 28, 2015

University of Portland students Nick Ost and Paul Dilley placed first in the for-profit business category of the $100K Challenge Venture Competition, an expanded business plan competition hosted by the University’s Franz Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation.


The pair’s Seattle-based company is called “Townie Shades,” which produces sunglasses that are sourced internationally, feature scenic designs, and sell for about $25. The pair earlier joined forces with another pair of entrepreneurs who were selling the Townie Shades but not making a profit.

Ost, of Puyallup, Wash., and Dilley, of Bellevue, Wash., helped redesign the glasses and re-brand the product, using social media to market their wares. After creating a new business model, the UP students helped the company sell 5,000 glasses in six days. Currently, Townie Shades, for every pair of sunglasses sold, donates a meal to the homeless in Seattle. Ost and Dilley, who are both juniors and are majoring in finance and minoring in entrepreneurship, state in their business plan, “Our shades give our customers a cool way to represent the city that they love.”

“Winning was surreal,” says Ost, who has been interested in the $100K Challenge since he was a freshman. Adds Dilley: “Having the support of the University is great.”

Emma Englund won first place in the Social Enterprise track for her business plan “Greatest Generation Project,” which collects stories from the shrinking numbers of World War II veterans and makes those stories available for future generations.

Second place in the for-profit category was Ashley Lund and her business Whereintheworld.com, a travel resource for students. The company is designed to operate as a closed network, requiring student verification. In the site, students would be able to search through trip reviews and post their own as well as easily track their travels and share them with others using the blogging feature. The website would function as a planning resource for students abroad and a way for those students to connect to one another and share their experiences. 

Alaa AlBanyan captured third place in the for-profit category for the business “ReversaBrush,” a makeup brush cleaning device that can wash and dry up to five brushes by running them through a gentle washing cycle. The process takes 10 minutes, far less than the time for traditional methods of washing and drying brushes. 

The $100K Challenge provides students with the opportunity to receive feedback from experts in the entrepreneurial community, win monetary prizes, and acquire legal, accounting, and other services that will help advance an idea to the next stage in the entrepreneurial process.

More information can be found at http://tinyurl.com/p22uo7k . Prizes include $1,250 for 1st place (for-profit & social enterprise); $750 for 2nd place (for-profit) and $250 for 3rd place (for-profit). Sponsors include VTM Group, Allion Test Labs, Schwabe Williamson and Wyatt, AARP, Foundation, Portland Business Journal, and the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN).

The University of Portland Launchpad Fund offers seed funding and incubation opportunities for student ventures. Funded by generous alumni, led by Rich Baek ’93 ’02 and supported by many others, the fund encourages students of all majors to innovate and monetize their ideas.

For more information contact Peter Rachor, Franz Center, at 7769 or rachor@up.edu.  

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