Louisiana Tech Cyber Engineering and Electrical Engineering graduate Daniel Kumler of Blairsville, Georgia, and Management and Entrepreneurship major Cade Spikes of Monroe are winners of the inaugural Century Next Bank Startup Prize, established in 2020 through the Louisiana Tech University Foundation to support promising startup companies led by emerging student entrepreneurs at the University.
Kumler and Spikes founded S&K Innovative Technologies, a startup that is developing a unique drone designed to aid military, law enforcement, and fire departments in gaining tactical advantages while de-escalating dangerous situations. The partners have set up their company in the University’s Student Incubator located in the Tech Pointe facility on Enterprise Campus.
“At Century Next Bank,” said Bill Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer, “we are honored to serve as a catalyst for entrepreneurship and innovation.”
The annual prize awards up to $10,000 for cream of the crop Tech student business startups to invest in their entrepreneurial dreams and facilitate their growth and development into thriving businesses along the I-20 Technology Corridor in north Louisiana.
The Century Next Bank Startup Prize allowed S&K to purchase equipment that helps the company both speed up the product development process and raise the technology readiness level of its drone product. S&K has been awarded a provisional patent for its drone and will soon pursue a full patent.
The company has partnered with Precision Procurement Solutions (PPS) to write and submit Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) contract proposals for technology commercialization of its drone innovation with military/commercial dual-use applications.
Spikes and Kumler —S&K — founded the company while participating in the Multi-Disciplinary Senior Design Project class and the TOP DOG New Venture Championship at Tech. Spikes works in the commercial drone industry and is in the Marine Corps Reserves. Kumler is an engineer with extensive server development and programming experience.
“I was talking to a Marine Corp friend about improving drones,” Spikes said, “and the wheels started turning.”
Spikes and Kumler formed a team and began to work building a revolutionary drone platform. S&K Innovative Technologies plans to become a hub for innovation across the aerospace, defense, and law enforcement industries.
To apply for the Century Next Bank award, teams must be in business operation, led by current Tech students and/or recent graduates, and in pursuit of other avenues of funding through sources such as the SBIR/STTR, equity investment, or federal and state grants or contracts.
Century Next Bank is proud to partner with the Innovation Enterprise at Tech to support emerging student entrepreneurs and growing businesses along the I-20 Technology Corridor.
“Century Next Bank is a leader for business and economic development in our region, and they understand the value of supporting young entrepreneurs,” said Tech Chief Innovation Officer Davy Norris. “This partnership is committed to attracting and nurturing these aspiring entrepreneurs from Louisiana Tech and ensuring that their entrepreneurial success impacts our communities.”
The Century Next Bank annual prize for top student-owned businesses encourages economic growth and fosters long-term commitments to discovery and innovation in the University’s region.