Previous Story Next Story

Engineering students encouraged to register for 2021-22 Tiger Cage Business Pitch Competition

By Joe McAdory

Published: Aug 25, 2021 6:05:00 AM

Mechanical engineering students Mit Patel and Daniel Mazur not only won the Tiger Cage in 2020, but have since won $3.2 million in startup capital. Mechanical engineering students Mit Patel and Daniel Mazur not only won the Tiger Cage in 2020, but have since won $3.2 million in startup capital.

Entrepreneurial-minded engineering students looking to secure early-stage seed funding are encouraged to register for Auburn University’s annual Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition.

The program ‑ which kicks off with skill-building workshops this semester and concludes in the spring with multiple rounds of pitch competitions before industry professional judges ­‑ allows student teams to compete for a share of $50,000 in startup capital, sponsored by the Harbert College of Business, and a $4,000 innovation award sponsored by the Thomas Walter Center for Technology Management.

“Business ideas have a product or service, and engineers are the people that create products and often the important elements of a service,” said Auburn University Director of Entrepreneurship Strategy Lou Bifano. “Anyone who is interested in sharpening their skills in developing a business idea, writing an easy-to-understand summary, then pitching that idea to either gain approval from investors or superiors is encouraged to participate.”

Engineering students have enjoyed great success in the Tiger Cage program.

  • Zac Young, who earned a degree in mechanical engineering last spring, not only captured the 2020 SEC Pitch Competition, but won the Tiger Cage in March with the Vulcan Line Tools’ Wave Timer, a device designed to measure sag and tension in power lines.
  • Mechanical engineering seniors Mit Patel and Daniel Mazur won the 2020 Tiger Cage, which propelled their creation ‘SwiftSku’ to more than $3.2 million in subsequent competitions – including winning the Rice Business Idea Competition in April.
  • Mechanical engineering graduate Blair Chenault and civil engineering graduate Ben Conry teamed to form ‘Flashtract’, software designed to streamline the construction industry payment process, won Tiger Cage in 2019 and remain in business today.

“The essence of engineering is understanding problems, developing solutions, and bringing them to life,” said Dan O’Leary, lecturer within the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering’s Business-Engineering-Technology (BET) program, hosted by the Thomas Walter Center. “Auburn engineering students work long and hard to develop those skills, all of which are essential to success in the Tiger Cage competition.”

The BET academic minor offers a blend of engineering and business courses and is open to all engineering and business students. “The Thomas Walter Center and our Business-Engineering-Technology minor are proud supporters of this competition,” O’Leary added. “It is a valuable experience that we encourage all Auburn engineers to consider.”

The 2021-22 Tiger Cage kicks off with a pair of recruitment and information events, Sept. 3 at 5 p.m. inside Horton-Hardgrave Hall’s Innovation Lab, and Sept. 10 at 5 p.m. at the Auburn University New Venture Accelerator.

“At the kickoff events, prospective teams will learn about the competitions, formats, what their applications need to include and the program’s schedule for the year,” Bifano added. “We’re going to have additional workshops this year to help the students be more competitive.”

Tiger Cage registration deadline is Nov. 19. Bifano expects about 30 to 40 applications, which will be vetted and whittled to 20 before January’s pitch competition rounds begin.

Tiger Cage quarterfinals will be Friday, Jan. 28, with semifinals, Friday, Feb. 25. Industry professional judges will choose the final four teams to compete in the March 25 Tiger Cage finals.

Teams interested are also invited to participate in the Oct. 29 Halloween Pitch Competition, which serves as a warm-up to Tiger Cage, and puts $5,000 in seed funding up for grabs.

“This gives teams a chance to get a real feel for pitching before seasoned judges before they are propelled into the Tiger Cage,” Bifano said.

Students interested in participating in this year’s Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition are encouraged to contact Lou Bifano at

Media Contact: Joe McAdory,, 334.844.3447

Recent Headlines