Student Startup Madness announces finalists and judging panel for championship event at SXSW in Austin, Texas.
RELEASE Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 — The Entrepreneurial Eight teams have been chosen for the finals of the Student Startup Madness (SSM) tournament, an official partner program of South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive. These elite college student startups will be in Austin, Texas, on March 16 to pitch before a judging panel of successful entrepreneurs and investors from Google, Samsung, Dell and a Silicon Valley venture capital firm—all of whom can help the students transform their ideas into business success.
The SSM event will be held at SXSW’s Startup Village main venue in the downtown Hilton Austin. The winning team will take home a prize package of software and services (valued at more than $2,000) and bragging rights as the best student startup in America.
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 2014-15 SSM Entrepreneurial Eight Finalists (in alphabetical order)
- BetaVersity from Washington University in St. Louis
- Boldr from University of Michigan
- Champio from Washington University in St. Louis
- Loco Labs from Bucknell University
- Reliefwatch from University of Chicago
- Spray N’ Pray Studios from Georgia State University
- Tech Twurl from Michigan State University
- Yorango from Cornell University
OFFICIAL ALTERNATE (and special spotlight military veteran startup)
- ChooseVets from University of Washington, Tacoma
“It’s going to be hard to pick a winner from this group,” says Sean Branagan, creator of the SSM program. “But that’s not my problem, that’s why we have a great judging panel.”
The 2014-15 SSM Judges (in alphabetical order)
- Kristina Hahn, Head of Consumer Packaged Goods, Google
- Brendon Kim, Managing Director, Strategic Investments Group, Samsung Open Innovation Center
- Heather Dawn Miller, Co-Founder, August | Endeavor (Miller Inspiration)
- Anis Uzzaman, Co-Founder & CEO, Fenox Venture Capital
EMCEE (and tie-breaking judge)
- Tim Dickson, Executive Director, CIO, Emerging Technologies and User Experience, Dell
“This great panel continues our tradition of getting rising stars in the startup community,” Branagan says. Past panelists included the co-founder of Square (Jim McKelvey), the managing director of TechStars (Nicole Glaros), the first investor in Pinterest (Brian Cohen), the director of engineering at Google and then head of engineering at SnapChat (Peter Magnusson) and a leader in the B-Corporation movement (Elisa Miller-Out), among others.
“It’s impressive that these talented professionals take time from their busy schedules at South By to listen to college students pitch their ventures,” says Branagan. “It says a lot about them as people and a lot about the quality of ventures coming off America’s college campuses these days.”
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 150 teams applied for the Student Startup Madness tournament online between August and the end of November 2014. The first two rounds of the SSM tournament are held online, with judging conducted via Gust.com, a platform used by angel investors around the world.
This year’s SSM teams came from more than 50 different colleges and universities across the country—all working on digital products and services in varied industries, including Consumer Services, Financial Services, Gaming & Entertainment, Medical Devices, Security, Sports, and Travel.
SSM is promoted and supported by anchor universities in regions across the country, as well as by corporate sponsors who believe in the power of American entrepreneurship and innovation on our college campuses.
About the finalists
BetaVersity: The company offers BetaBox, a maker lab in a shipping container, as well as Atlas, a job-matching tool targeted at engineers, for 25+ university and corporate clients. [Contact Blake Marggraff, email@example.com, or visit www.betaversity.com.]
Boldr: An effective promotion platform for retail businesses that quantifies ROI for their online marketing through metrics on foot traffic. [Contact Prateek Sachdeva, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit getboldr.com.]
Champio: An enterprise system that helps companies market better on social media by generating relevant and unique content from employees, which increases follower engagement. [Contact Jolijt Tamanaha, email@example.com, or visit champio.com.]
Loco Labs: A mobile application on iOS for local communities to anonymously post relevant information in their areas. Share information, meet new people, have fun. Loco. [Contact Cameron James, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit locoapp.co.]
Reliefwatch: A platform for organizations in the developing world to track inventory through basic mobile phones. [Contact Daniel Yu, email@example.com, or visit reliefwatch.com.]
Spray N’ Pray Studios: A game development company that believes narrative and gameplay function as one, not as two pieces in a complex puzzle. “Ready, Fire, Aim!” [Contact Kynton Stephens, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit eventhorizongame.net.]
Tech Twurl: A convenient and reliable solution to buy, sell, trade, and repair your devices. Using our website and mobile app you will always be protected. [Contact Usman Majeed, email@example.com, or visit techtwurl.com.]
Yorango: An end-to-end solution for tenants and landlords integrating management SaaS with easy-to-navigate listings. [Contact Adam Kirsch, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit yorango.com.]
OFFICIAL ENTREPRENEURIAL EIGHT ALTERNATE:
ChooseVets: An online marketplace that connects military veterans who provide services, trades and labor with customers who need to get stuff done. [Contact Christopher Sheppard, email@example.com, or visit chooseVets.com.]
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, along with its sponsors and host universities, believes in American entrepreneurship and on-campus startups—and wants to help young student entrepreneurs succeed and become a part of the SXSW experience.
Student Startup Madness debuted in 2012 at SXSW Interactive with a launch event and kick-off pitchfest. In 2013 and 2014, SSM became a SXSW Partner Program and was invited into the main venue of SXSW Startup Village. For more on Student Startup Madness, visit the website (https://studentstartupmadness.com), see us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter: @StartupMad.