Thirty-two college startups in national tournament make it to semi-final round; hope to pitch live at South By Southwest

32 student startups from colleges across the USA compete for top honors and bragging rights in Student Startup Madness tournament.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Thirty-two college student startup teams from across the nation move on to the semi-final round in the 2017-18 Student Startup Madness (SSM) tournament, where they will compete for top honors and the SSM National Championship. The semi-finalist teams come from 29 different colleges and universities across the country and are working on digital products and services in more than a dozen different industries, including all kinds of business-to-business and consumer products and services — as well as in cryto-currency, social impact, healthcare, education, entertainment, and travel.

Student Startup Madness (SSM) is the only nationwide collegiate tournament focused on digital media startups. It affords college student startups the opportunity to compete against fellow student entrepreneurs, grab the attention of potential investors and supporters, and build an elite professional network. At the SSM finals at SXSW, eight of the top college student startups in the country will pitch their business to well-known investors and entrepreneurs who can help them transform their ideas into success.

The SSM tournament is promoted by anchor universities in regions across the country and supported by corporate partners. SSM also cross-promotes the tournament with with Women 2.0, the leading media brand for the next generation of technology leaders, and with Student Veterans of America, a coalition of student-veteran groups on more than 1,300 college campuses across the globe. All these organizations believe in the power of American entrepreneurship and innovation on our college campuses.

The 2017-18 SSM Semi-Finalists: (in alphabetical order)

  • CareBoost from University of Southern California
  • Chewhoo from Rutgers University
  • Chirp from Harvard University
  • Chromatec from University of Oregon
  • Codemoji from Northwestern University
  • Everest Capital from Princeton University and Rice University
  • GAIA from Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Geopipe from Brown University
  • HotPlate from Northwestern University
  • HungerPerks from University of Akron
  • Ignight Lighting from Grand Valley State University
  • Impowerus from University of Notre Dame
  • In with the Old from University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • iSpyPens from University of Tampa
  • Koalasale from Baruch College
  • League of Lifeguards from New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Librarian AI from Stanford University
  • Lot Spot from University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
  • One-Man Band from Purdue University
  • Pavan from University of Chicago
  • Perch from University of Michigan
  • Piero from Brigham Young University
  • PLUR Technologies from California State University, Chico
  • Ravle from Syracuse University
  • RecRev from University of Rochester
  • Rumble Helmet from University of Bridgeport
  • SaRA Health from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • Smart Staffing from Michigan State University
  • Sweetbud from University of California, Irvine
  • ToDoolie from Wayne State University
  • Trail Supply Co. from University of Oregon
  • Yedea Telemedicine from University of Virginia

From these 32 semi-finalists, the Entrepreneurial Eight finalists will be selected in late January and invited to pitch at the SSM Finals and Championship event, to be held at SXSW’s Startup Village main venue in the downtown Hilton Austin on Monday, March 12.

“For seven years, we have run this tournament and it never disappoints,” says Sean Branagan, creator of the SSM program and Director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. “If you worry about the future, take a look at these 32 student startups. There’s no better way to create a sense of hope and amazement. College campuses are bursting with innovation and entrepreneurship. It’s an amazing time.”

SSM Tournament Format

Each round of the nationwide tournament will build momentum, awareness and social media buzz, drawing attention to colleges and universities as sources for innovation, entrepreneurship, and talent while showcasing university entrepreneurship and encouraging college students to start businesses.

More than 200 student startups applied online between August and early December. The first round of competition was held online among the 64 startup teams, with judging conducted via, a platform used by angel investors around the world.

From the starting field, 32 semi-finalists are chosen and advance to the next round. By late January, the Entrepreneurial Eight finalists will be selected and invited to pitch to a well-known panel of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and investors at the Student Startup Madness national finals in Austin, Texas, on Monday, March 12, 2018. The SSM Finals and Championship event will be held at one of SXSW’s main venues in the downtown Austin Hilton hotel conference center.

About Student Startup Madness

The Student Startup Madness concept was developed by Sean Branagan, director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, in conjunction with SXSW. Student Startup Madness believes in American entrepreneurship and on-campus startups—and wants to help young student entrepreneurs succeed and become a part of the SXSW experience.

The 2017-18 SSM tournament has been promoted and supported by 13 anchor universities in eight regions across the country: Arizona State University (Southwest), Cornell University (Northeast), Bucknell University (Mid-Atlantic), Georgia State University (Southeast), Michigan State University (Great Lakes), St. Louis University (Midwest), Seton Hall University (Northeast), University of Florida (Southeast), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Midwest), University of Maryland (Mid-Atlantic), University of Southern California (West), University of Washington at Tacoma (Northwest) and Xavier University (Great Lakes).

Student Startup Madness debuted in 2012 at SXSW Interactive with a launch event and kick-off pitchfest, where five student startup teams representing eight colleges and universities pitched their ventures and won prizes. Today it is a national tournament in one of the main venues of SXSW. For more on Student Startup Madness, visit the website (, see us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter: @StartupMad.

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