Bozeman, Mont. – Foothold, a Montana-based modular housing startup, was awarded the top social venture prize in Montana State University's $50K Venture Competition. "We're incredibly honored to receive this award" said Sam Atkins, Foothold's Co-Founder and MSU Alumnus. "The lack of housing is a critical issue for everyone in our community, and this prize is a great milestone as we build a solution that works."
Foothold is addressing the shortage of affordable housing in Bozeman by building high quality, sustainable, and affordable homes. The units will be built inside in a facility in Butte, and delivered to building sites. "It’s a higher quality product with shorter timelines, happier employees, and less waste" noted Hannah Van Wetter, Foothold's Co-Founder and CEO. By systematizing the construction process, Foothold will be able to efficiently build smaller homes.
The grand prize from this competition will help Foothold work with manufacturing experts to plan an efficient factory layout and improve its manufacturing processes. Last month, Foothold was awarded a matching grant from the State of Montana's Department of Commerce to work with Montana Manufacturing Extension Center. "Because of the matching opportunity, this prize will effectively be doubled," said Van Wetter, "it will give us twice the time with lean manufacturing experts, and energize our efforts to build high quality homes."
For the second annual competition, hosted by the Blackstone Launchpad and MSU's Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, teams of MSU students, Professors, and alumni presented their ideas to a panel of judges. Teams were divided into two groups, one for traditional ventures, and one for social impact ventures. Foothold was awarded first place in the social impact group, with the Growing Health Tea Project, which is creating and supporting a local tea marketplace in the Blackfeet Nation, taking second, and Positively Outward, a service that promotes the mental health and personal development of rural youth in third. "Our judges were extremely impressed and inspired by these pitches, and we look forward to supporting Foothold and the other finalists as they work on the innovative solutions to these challenging issues." said Trevor Huffmaster, Executive Director of the Blackstone Launchpad at MSU.
“This competition is an incredible opportunity for us to share our story,” said Atkins, “we’re grateful for all the work that went into this – to our venture coach who helped us craft our pitch, to the judges for their time, and to the Blackstone Launchpad for organizing and hosting this event.”