Student Startup Madness will debut at South By Southwest (SXSW) with a kick-off pitchfest on Monday, March 12, in Austin

RELEASE Thursday, March 1, 2012 — College student digital media startups have a little more time to register for the Student Startup Madness kick-off pitchfest March 12 in Austin, Texas. The registration deadline has been extended to Monday, March 5, at midnight. Teams can register online at

All college students with digital media startups who will be attending South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi)—or plan to be in the Austin, Texas, area on March 12—are encouraged to apply for the kick-off pitchfest.

If selected, teams will pitch their business concepts to a panel of notable entrepreneurs, investors and recent student startup founders:

• Brian Cohen, chairman of New York Angels (, founder of InformationWeek magazine, founder/former CEO of Technology Solutions Inc., serial entrepreneur;

• Elisa Miller-Out, president of Singlebrook (, entrepreneur, advisor and investor;

• Nancy Spears, president of genConnect (, entrepreneur, advisor and investor;

• Jason Blanck, founder of Broodr (, young entrepreneur; and

• Trace Cohen, president of, young entrepreneur.

The competition is Monday, March 12, from 9-11:30 a.m. at Maria Maria La Cantina, 415 Colorado St. in Austin during the South By Southwest Interactive conference ( Complimentary breakfast will be served. Admission is free to all SXSW badge holders.

Each selected team will deliver a 15-minute, in-person pitch to the SSM panel and will be judged on its business merit and investment opportunity, based on strength of idea, strength of team, market size and market traction. The top three teams, as judged by the kick-off pitchfest panel, will win terrific prize packages courtesy of Funny or Die, JackThreads/Thrillist, Startup Debut and genConnect.

The Austin kick-off pitchfest is the precursor to the 2012-13 Student Startup Madness nationwide tournament launching this summer in association with South By Southwest. Details will be announced at the March 12 event.

Kick-off pitchfest sponsors are Syracuse University, the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, C3 Strategic, The Paley Center for Media,, JackThreads/Thrillist, genConnect, Startup Debut, Singlebrook Technologies, Funny or Die, and Gust.

About the judges

Brian S. Cohen is considered one of the fathers of science and technology strategic communications, having founded Technology Solutions Inc. in 1983. TSI’s client list read like an entrepreneurial who’s who list of startup technology companies in computing, communication, software, education and entertainment. For more than a decade, he maintained a broad strategic communications partnership with Sony and IBM Corp., providing counsel to dozens of their intrapreneurial new technology divisions.

Notably, TSI received the Gold CIPRA award in 1998 for the IBM Deep Blue/Gary Kasparov Chess Match concept and communications program. In 1996, TSI was recognized as the No. 1 fastest growing agency in the United States. He later sold the company to The McCann Erickson World Group in 1997 and became the vice chairman of their technology group.

As a researcher, Brian created Focus Technology, an organization that provided qualitative research and instituted the RPM model of integrated strategic communications providing ultra-competitive technology clients the ability to quickly discover and leverage their key strengths as well as mitigate their destructive weaknesses.

As a publisher, Brian was a pioneer in the founding of a number of the first computing publications, including Computer Systems News and InformationWeek magazine.

As an investor, he now serves as the chairman of the New York Angels, which has invested more than $45 million into more than 70 early stage technology companies.

As an educator, Brian developed the Applied Internet Media Studies (AIMS) Program, a senior/graduate-level college semester program where students are rigorously trained to use the internet professionally. Brian is also a mentor to dozens of entrepreneurial students studying at NYU, Columbia and other universities throughout the Tri-State area as well as numerous incubators and accelerators.

He is a frequent speaker on topics related to strategic communication, entrepreneurism and early startup investing, and is now writing a book for McGraw Hill on the creation of a new organizational product launch model.

A recipient of Boston University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, he holds a master’s degree in science communications from BU’s School of Public Communications.

Elisa Miller-Out is CEO and co-founder of Singlebrook Technology Inc., a custom web development company based in Ithaca, N.Y., that specializes in web application development, mobile applications, integration, databases, content management systems and technology strategy consulting.

Singlebrook is a certified B Corp and has a strong emphasis on social and environmental responsibility. Clients include the American Chiropractic Association, the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, Mission Markets, RSF Social Finance, Earthcolor, Hitachi Metals of America and Cornell University.

Prior to founding Singlebrook, Elisa founded two other companies and worked in a variety of industries in New York City, including product development, theater, film and commercial production, event planning, pharmaceuticals and finance. Elisa is the winner of the 2011 B Corp Supply Chain Award, the 2010 B Corp Policy Champion Award and the 2011 NYSAE New Star Synergy Award. She has been featured in articles in The New York Times, USA Today and many other publications.

Elisa serves on the Council of Innovation Advisors for ConvergeUS.

She graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College of Columbia University.

Nancy Spears is a founding partner of genConnect, a digital media company that connects audiences across generations through quality content and dynamic social networking tools and applications. Nancy is responsible for leading genConnect in sales, marketing and the development of creative/content of the brand.

Formerly founder and CEO of a national marketing and production agency, Nancy has expertise in providing strategic marketing communications counsel and services to Fortune 100 companies.

Nancy sold the first company she founded—Creative Event Marketing, Inc.—to The Interpublic Group in 2000. Her corporate clients included Coca Cola, John Hancock, Eli Lilly and Co., Nike, Johnson & Johnson, Time Warner, BMC, Toyota, Verizon and AIG.

Nancy recently published “Buddha: 9 to 5: The Eightfold Path to Improving Your Bottom Line.” The book provides implementation tools for waking up an organization and improving its communication and leadership ethics.

Nancy is also very interested in sustainability and has built homes with an emphasis on green construction and healthy house design, which she terms enlightened environments for sustainability.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from West Virginia University.

Jason Blanck is the founder and CEO of Broodr, an online marketplace for all types of unique products, designs and inventions.

His prior work experience includes being a CBS college sports campus representative and an instructional associate at CBS Collegiate Sports Properties, as well as serving as a research assistant at Syracuse University.

He is a 2010 graduate of Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in communications, applied economics and management He then attended SU’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and earned his master’s degree in 2011.

He lives in New York City, where you can find him exploring his new office in the 2011 OMD incubator, blogging and working on Broodr.

Trace Cohen: As a sophomore (age 19) at Syracuse University, Trace and his roommate noticed that a lot of their friends were not getting the jobs or internships they desired, so the pair started to create custom websites for their friends so they could impress potential employers. This was the start of, which helps students and young professionals manage their reputation and personal brands online.

More recently, he is president of a new venture,

Trace is a 2010 graduate of the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University with a double major in entrepreneurship and marketing.

About Student Startup Madness

Student Startup Madness is an official program of SXSW Startup Village and is organized by Syracuse University.

The online entry period for the 2012-13 nationwide tournament opens in summer 2012, followed by regional events at host universities across the country in fall 2012 and culminating in the national finals before a celebrity panel of well-known entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and investors at SXSW Interactive in March 2013.

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 outstanding university entrepreneurship programs and encouraging college students to start businesses.

Opportunities are available for sponsorships and for university regional host sites for the 2012-13 tournament. For more information, contact Sean Branagan at

Follow Student Startup Madness on Facebook:

Contact: Kevin Morrow
(315) 443-2998