Judging panel set for finals of college student startup national tournament to be held at South By Southwest on March 12

Investors and executives from the Mark Cuban Companies, Dorm Room Fund, Google, and Make in LA will judge student startups at SXSW event. Emcee of the event will be Jen Kay of LaunchTN.

Thursday, March 1, 2018 – The judging panel is set for the Student Startup Madness (SSM) “Entrepreneurial Eight” finals to be held on Monday, March 12, from 3:30pm – 6pm CST at South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive in the Hilton Hotel (Salon A) in downtown Austin, TX.

The event will be led and emceed by Jen Kay (@jkinthebk), Director of Marketing/Partnership Development and Entrepreneur in Residence at LaunchTN

The judging panel includes:

  • Abe Minkara – Director, Business Development at Mark Cuban Companies; @aminkara
    Abe Minkara oversees the portfolio of Shark Tank and Consumer Product companies at Mark Cuban Companies. Abe also manages a team that supports these companies with accounting, operations, ecommerce, sales, and marketing services. He received his MBA from the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
  • Rei Wang – Director, Dorm Room Fund / First Round Capital ; @heyreiwang
    Rei is the Director of Dorm Room Fund, the largest student-run venture firm in the nation and backed by First Round Capital.
  • Jamie Hirschhorn, Global Product Partnerships, Google Assistant; @JamieHirschhorn
    Jamie Hirschhorn currently works on Global Product Partnerships for the Google Assistant. Her team at Google helps developers with discoverability and re-engagement integrations across core Google services, including the Assistant & Search. Jamie specializes in emerging surfaces, focusing on strong partner experiences across new visual and voice modalities.  Jamie studied Finance & English at the University of Florida, and resides in San Francisco.
  • Carmen Palafox, Partner, Make in LA; @PalafoxCarmen
    Carmen is a Partner at Make in LA, an accelerator and early stage venture fund that invests  in technology-enabled hardware (IoT, robotics, wearables, frontier tech). She was formerly VP at Dimensional where she scaled operations into new markets, including Latin America, Canada, and Europe. Carmen also served as a consultant to startups in operations, fundraising, and growth.

“Every year our student entrepreneurs amaze and inspire the crowd at SXSW. The focus is on the students, but it is the judging panel that brings out the best in them – asking great questions, focusing on competitive advantages and offering insights, connections and support during and after the event,”
says Sean Branagan, creator of SSM and director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. “This year we have four well-connected investors and technologists who have seen thousands of startups and new digital products. All of them have the resources to bring the best of these Entrepreneurial Eight startups to market. An incredible group!”

About the Emcee

As Marketing Director and EIR at Launch Tennessee in Nashville, Jennifer is tasked with building a brand strategy, marketing products and events, expanding national partnerships and strengthening the statewide entrepreneur network. Previously she ran global operations at a venture-backed consumer startup in Berlin, Germany. She spent 10 years in the media industry in New York City, managing digital for national brands.

About the Finals

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. The SSM finals event will be held at SXSW’s Startup Village main venue in the downtown Hilton Austin. The judging panel will review the Entrepreneurial Eight teams in two sessions.

Session One will be held from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm and Session Two will be held from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Student teams from Northwestern University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Brown University, the University of Notre Dame, Stanford University, Syracuse University, Michigan State University, and University of California, Irvine will compete on stage.

The top vote-getter as determined by the judges will be named the Student Startup Madness 2017-18 National Champion and will be awarded the SSM Trophy with all the bragging rights for the team and its home college/university. The top teams will take home a prize package of software and services (valued at over $2,500) and bragging rights as the best student startups in America.

About the Finalists (in alphabetical order)

Codemoji‘s computer science curriculum for educators allows 1st-8th grade students to learn the basics of web development and coding, including HTML, CSS, and Javascript, and game design in a fun and easy way, allowing them to create their own websites, animations and much more with our unique and adaptable learning platform. codemoji.com

Gaia is a health informatics company striving to educate individuals and parents in the autism community by empowering them with data. The system, comprised of a smart garment and mobile application, provides a warning to users and caretakers when the user is at high-risk of an anxiety meltdown. facebook.com/gaia.smartmove/

Geopipe automatically reconstructs immersive 3D models of the real world. We let simulation creators, game designers, architects, and many others immediately put the real world into virtual space for renderings, virtual experiences, physical simulation, and analysis. We use algorithmic techniques including machine learning to understand what’s in the world. geopi.pe

Impowerus is a website connecting juvenile immigrants in need of legal aid with attorneys performing pro bono work in immigration services. Through our secure video chat service, juveniles can speak with volunteer attorneys working remotely and attorneys can utilize our dashboard to keep track of their hours, conversations, and goals. impowerus.com

Librarian AI helps employees instantly find the expertise that they need. Librarian AI makes it easy for employees to document what they know, and surface what their team has already recorded. librarian.ai

Ravle is a travel company that empowers travel filmmakers by turning their beautiful videos into mapped itineraries and bookable travel experiences. We do this by creating valuable sales-focused marketing strategies for travel brands that are backed by bookings and traveler data. ravle.com

Smart Staffing software was designed with private duty home health care companies for private duty home healthcare companies. We offer an easy to use, map-based software that makes scheduling more efficient and optimizes the match between caregiver and client. smartstaffing.co

Sweetbud is a coffee cup lid that uses electrical stimulation to simulate the taste of sweetness, thus replacing the sugar in coffee and reducing daily sugar intake. Our product can be applied to other beverages and we hope to revolutionize the augmented reality industry through taste.. www.sweetbud.co

About the Tournament

More than 200 teams applied for the Student Startup Madness tournament online between August and early December. Applications came from more than 60 different colleges and universities across the country: from large state universities to small private colleges, from technical institutes to liberal arts schools. All SSM teams are digital startups, and all hope to follow in the footsteps of famous college student founders of companies like Facebook, Google, Dell, Microsoft, Reddit, WordPress and SnapChat.

The first two rounds of competition were held online. From the starting field of 64 of the best college startups in America, 32 semi-finalists were chosen in mid-January. All these student startups are working on digital and technology-based products and services in dozens of industries, as varied as education, clothing and sensor technology, and real estate, as well as never-before-seen industries such as augmented taste.

The SSM tournament is promoted by anchor universities in regions across the country. SSM also partners with StageXchange, an institutional deal management and marketing platform, and cross-promotes the tournament with Women 2.0, the leading media brand for the next generation of technology leaders, and 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.

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 (https://studentstartupmadness.com), see us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter: @StartupMad.

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