Clemson University entrepreneurs to meet with Silicon Valley executives over spring break

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Dial Devaney said that he likes taking his hunting dog, Tex, with him on off-road trips but that she gets nervous if she has to wait in the Jeep when he finds a rock face to climb.
Devaney looked for a portable invisible fence that would allow Tex to run around outside the Jeep but not wander off and get lost. Devaney couldn’t find one– so he invented one and founded a company to commercialize it.
Dial Devaney, left, and Silas Adams took first place in the inaugural Spark Challenge.
The creation helped Devaney and his business partner, Silas Adams, win first-place in the inaugural Spark Challenge at Clemson University. 
The team received $2,500 in prize money and earned Devaney a trip to Silicon Valley to meet with technology company executives. He leaves Sunday and plans to use the opportunity to learn more about how the executives became successful so that he can do the same.
The Spark Challenge is among the latest efforts to expose Clemson students to start-up culture and provide them with access to mentors who have business experience.
The program was made possible by Alex Zheng, who received his chemical engineering degree from Clemson in 1990 before going on to co-found, Huneo, a healthcare tech company in the San Francisco Bay Area.  
The $25,000 he provided to Clemson was seed money to establish the West Coast Connector Fund, which pays for the Spark Challenge. The fund also helps pay travel expenses for Clemson’s new University Innovation Fellows to attend their annual meetup at Stanford University.
As Devaney and other students pack their bags for their trip West, Zheng and others are looking for additional donors to help sustain the fund and expand the number of students involved.
“If you’re exposed to these sort of things, it opens up your eyes, opens up new horizons,” Zheng said. “ …

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