VCU grad student’s invention wins grand prize in Wal-Mart startup competition
Olugbenga “Tumi” Oredein named one of two grand prize winners; strong online sales could lead to product placement in chain’s retail stores
Friday, Nov. 8, 2013
A Virginia Commonwealth University graduate student has been named one of two grand prize winners in Wal-Mart’s “Get on the Shelf” competition.
Olugbenga “Tumi” Oredein, a product innovation major in the da Vinci Center for Innovation, invented SKRIBS, which are erasable and customizable wristbands that allow children to write or draw on them, using pens, pencils, markers or other writing tools.
Wal-Mart named Oredein the grand prize winner for products selling for less than $40. Davis Burstee, co-president of Legends Home Bedding in Los Angeles, won the grand prize for products selling for more than $40 for his Elvis Presley Home Bedding Collection.
“I found out on Thursday when I was at the gym,” Oredein said. “I was on the elliptical (machine) and nearly fell off! I’m delighted but I am now immediately thinking about how I am going to deliver. I am working on hammering out the logistics to deliver the product to Wal-Mart.”
Both grand prize winners competed against thousands of other inventors, entrepreneurs and small business owners nationwide. The top 20 finalists were featured in “webisodes,” which allowed views to select a top five, whose products were available for pre-order at Walmart.com.
“Tumi winning the Wal-Mart ‘Get on the Shelf’ competition is just as if he made it the Final Four and won! It shows what our students can do,” said Kenneth Kahn, Ph.D., professor of marketing and director of the da Vinci Center. “It also shows how the VCU Venture Creation Competition can make things really happen; Tumi won first prize in the graduate division this past spring. All of us at VCU are very proud of his accomplishment."
Both products will continue to be sold on Walmart.com, will receive additional online marketing support and will be introduced to the chain’s merchandising team for consideration of sales in Wal-Mart stores.
“It’s the best position to be in as an inventor,” Oredein said. “I didn’t risk a personal fortune to develop this idea. Now that we’ve seen there is strong interest, I’ll be able to attract investors.”
Click here to read Wal-Mart’s release on the grand prize winners.
About VCU and VCU Medical Center
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.