Field of 64 college startups announced for national tournament; Finals to be held at South By Southwest in March

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

Friday, December 28th, 2018

College startups from across the nation are finding out today they are part of the “starting field of 64” (SSM 64) in this year’s Student Startup Madness (SSM) competition, which will end on March 11, 2019, with the final competition on-stage at South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX.

Applications came from across the country, from large state universities to small private colleges, from technical institutes to liberal arts schools. Members of the SSM 64 came from 54 different colleges and universities, with a few active entrepreneurship campuses having multiple teams.

SSM highlights and spotlights college digital media startups. Famous college student startups include powerhouse companies such as Facebook, Google, Dell, Microsoft, Reddit, WordPress, and SnapChat. The startupsin this year’s SSM 64 are creating innovative new products and services, disruptive new business models, and brand new digital capabilities.

“These sixty-four startups may be the best college digital media startups in the country,” according to Sean Branagan, creator of Student Startup Madness and director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. “Every year we see hundreds of college student startups, and we are always impressed with the creativity and innovation… And, these startups come from colleges campuses all over the country, not just the usual tech hubs.”

“This year, we saw college startups inventing new virtual reality gaming systems, ‘soft robotics’ technology, and new voice and speaker tech that harnesses sound or produces it,” adds Gianna Whitver, Director of Marketing for the tournament. “We saw teams disrupting stable industries with artificial intelligence and blockchain technology, improving learning and economic outcomes for students, starting Gen Z-focused and diversity-minded media companies, and improving healthcare…Plus, we noticed an increase in the number of mission-driven startups utilizing tech ‘for good’ and startups that are integrating a charitable component into their business plans. There were many strong applicants.”

With this announcement of the starting field, the SSM competition really begins, and all teams have a shot at top honors and the SSM National Championship. The first two rounds of the tournament will be held online, and the competition culminates with the finals on-stage at SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas, on March 11, when the Entrepreneurial Eight will pitch to a panel of startup judges, which will be announced soon.

Student Startup Madness 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 elite college student startups will pitch their businesses to well-known investors, technologists and entrepreneurs who can help them transform these early startups into successful businesses.

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 2018-19 SSM Starting Field of 64: (in alphabetical order)

360VR Technology from University of Delaware

A Sneakerhead’s Paradise from Lehigh University

AgraChain from University of Rochester

AirMotion Designs from Academy of Art University

Audivity from University of Arizona

Careerquo from University of Memphis

Char’s Charms from Lake Forest College

Clean ‘Em from University of Texas at Austin

ClearCam from University of Texas at Austin

Cut to the Case from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Darsana from University of Massachusetts Amherst

Davis&Yousaf Technologies from Drexel University

ecoText from University of New Hampshire

Elixir from University of Washington

ExecU Weekly from Washington University in St. Louis

Flashtract from Auburn University

Future Starts Now from University of Baltimore

Hindsight from John Brown University

Homecooked, Inc. from University of Chicago, Yale University, and Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) from University of Tampa

JourneySafe from John Brown University

Kadoo from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Kwest from University of Texas at Dallas

Lingco Language Labs from Michigan State University

Low Red from Purdue University Northwest

Mission Control from Saint Louis University

MyHotelRider from University of Bridgeport

Nimbus from Purdue University Northwest

OpportuniMe from Northeastern University

OptechVR from Syracuse University

Perch from University of Michigan

Parents in Motion (PIM) from Cuyahoga Community College and Case Western Reserve University

PLUR Tech from California State University, Chico

Podium from Tufts University and McGill University

Programmable-Air from New York University (NYU)

PurPics from University of Virginia

Red Clover Reader, Inc from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Regavi from Washington University in St. Louis and Pennsylvania State University

Resonado from University of Notre Dame

Riley from University of Virginia

Runerra from University of Minnesota

Side Hustle Gaming from Loyola University New Orleans and University of Alabama

Simple Gardens from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Sincere Sitter from Seton Hall University

Skoop, INC from Michigan State University

SmartMat from Purdue University Northwest

Socipod from Florida Atlantic University

Sound Cycle from Purdue University Northwest

Soundcollide from Georgia State University

Souvinear from Drexel University

StudyTree from University of Pennsylvania

Suna Breakfast from Cornell University

Tableau Media from Syracuse University

Tango from University of Chicago

The Acme Fellowship from Bucknell University

Thrive Systems from Brigham Young University

Trade Arcade from Indiana University Bloomington

Vize from Texas A&M University, College Station

Wello from University of Texas at Austin

WinutRx from Rochester Institute of Technology and Saint John Fisher College

WOKEN from New York University (NYU)

Worksense from Tufts University

Yespat from University of Texas at Arlington

Zonder from Michigan State University

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.

The first round of competition will be 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 will be 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 11, 2018. The SSM Finals and Championship event will be held at SXSW’s Startup Village main venue 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 2018-19 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 main venue of SXSW Startup Village. For more on Student Startup Madness, visit the website (, see us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter: @StartupMad.