SYRACUSE, N.Y., January 17, 2017 – Student startup teams from colleges and universities across the country compete for top honors and bragging rights in Student Startup Madness tournament.

Thirty-two college student startup teams from across the nation move on to the semi-final round in the 2016-17 Student Startup Madness (SSM) tournament, where they will compete for top honors and the SSM National Championship. The semi-finalist teams come from 23 different colleges and universities across the country and are working on digital products and services in more than a dozen different industries, including Business-to-Business Services, Consumer Products, Fashion, Financial Services, Healthcare, Education, Entertainment, Retail 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 elite college student startups will pitch their business to well-known investors and entrepreneurs who can help them transform their idea into success.

The SSM tournament is promoted by anchor universities in regions across the country and supported by Walmart Technology and The Blackstone Charitable Foundation. SSM also cross-promotes the tournament with Blackstone LaunchPad, a global campus based entrepreneurship program, 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 2016-17 SSM 32 Semi-Finalists (in alphabetical order)

  • 101 from Carnegie Mellon University
  • Acculis from New York University
  • Ally from University of Texas at Dallas
  • Chang’s Chat from Arizona State University
  • Channels from Washington University in St. Louis
  • Comake from Cornell University
  • Converse VR from University of Texas at Dallas
  • Drops from University of Southern California
  • Dycap Media Solutions from University of Florida
  • Find Your Ditto from University of Michigan
  • Kwest from University of Texas at Dallas
  • LearnMe from Purdue University Northwest
  • MemoryFox from State University of New York at Buffalo
  • Omnipointment from Illinois Institute of Technology and University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Orai from Drexel University
  • Parihug from Case Western Reserve University
  • Parsegon from Columbia University
  • Reflexion Interactive Technologies from Case Western Reserve University
  • Retail Jump (iNeed) from Michigan State University
  • Ryze from Texas A&M University
  • Savofair from Syracuse University
  • Spolitic from Syracuse University
  • Swifte from University of Georgia
  • Talk With Sam from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • The Releaf Group from Princeton University
  • Theatre Galleria from New York University
  • TravelSee from Cornell University
  • UNIBEES from University of Texas at Dallas
  • WalkAround VR from Syracuse University
  • Weather General from Texas A&M University
  • WiNot App from Washington University in St. Louis
  • Zealery from Northeastern University

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 13.

“Every year I’m amazed at the level of sophistication and capabilities of these students, and this group did not disappoint,” 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. “American college campuses are teeming with innovation, entrepreneurship and talent. The speed of change is quickening, and these students are leading the way. The future looks bright.”

SSM Tournament Format

Each round of the nationwide tournament builds 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 two rounds of competition are held online, with judging conducted via, a platform used by angel investors around the world. From the starting field of 64 of the best college startups in America, these 32 semi-finalists were chosen to advance to the semi-final round. By the end of January, the Entrepreneurial Eight finalists will be selected.

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 2016-17 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 the 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.