Entrepreneurs, investors and technologists from Nike, General Catalyst/Rough Draft Ventures, Blackstone and Walmart will judge student startups at SXSW event. Emcee of the event will be Jesse Draper.

RELEASE Thursday, March 2, 2017 — The judging panel is set for the Student Startup Madness (SSM) “Entrepreneurial Eight” finals to be held on Monday, March 13, at South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive in the Hilton Hotel (Salon D) in downtown Austin, TX. The event will be led and emceed by Jesse Draper , a fourth generation tech investor (@halogenvc) & creator and host of The Valley Girl Show, where she has met and interviewed many well-known entrepreneurs and investors in the tech startup scene.

The judging panel includes:

●  Ron Faris – Founder of Virgin Mega (acquired by Nike), now GM of Nike Digital Innovation Studio
●  Peter Boyce II – Principal, General Catalyst & Co-founder, Rough Draft Ventures
●  Jeremy King – Executive VP & CTO, Walmart U.S. and Global Platforms – @WalmartLabs & Jet Technology
●  Christopher James – Senior Managing Director of The Blackstone Group and COO of Blackstone Tactical Opportunities

“We have been so lucky to get a terrific panel of judges over the years, and this year we did it again!” 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. ”Generally, we focus on getting entrepreneurs and investors who can give real feedback to our student entrepreneurs about their ventures. This year we added two great corporate VCs, who are active in the startup space… And, these days, Corporate VCs are a major force in the startup world: investing, acquiring, supporting and working with startups.”

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 will feature teams from Carnegie Mellon University, University of Florida, University of Michigan, Illinois Institute of Technology and University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Following a 30-minute break, Session Two will be held from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm and will feature teams from Case Western Reserve University, Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), Cornell University, University of Georgia, University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), and New York University (NYU).

The top vote-getter as determined by the judges will be named the Student Startup Madness 2016-17 National Champion and will be awarded the SSM Rocket 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 $2,000) and bragging rights as the best student digital startups in America.

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 media 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 are held online, with judging conducted via Gust.com, a platform used by angel investors around the world. 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 products and services in dozens of industries, as varied as Business-to-Business Services, Consumer Products, Fashion, Financial Services, Healthcare, Education, Entertainment, Retail, Sports and Travel.

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.

About the Emcee

Jesse Draper is founding partner of Halogen Ventures, as well as creator and host of 2015 Emmy nominated television series,“The Valley Girl Show”. Draper is a 4th generation venture capitalist focused on early stage investing in female founded consumer technology. As speaker, moderator and emcee, she has interviewed Fortune 500 CEOs, hosted the opening ceremonies of The America’s Cup, emceed awards shows in the US and Europe and has delivered speeches about women in technology, entrepreneurship and digital media.

About the Judges

Ron Faris is GM of Nike’s Digital Innovation Studio in NYC. Most recently, he was Founder & CEO of Virgin Mega (recently acquired by Nike), a tech startup dedicated to pioneering new social and community interactions for mobile Millennials. Prior to that, he ran Brand Marketing at Virgin Mobile USA where he was responsible for driving brand strategy, as well as all aspects of creative and consumer-facing offline and online engagement.

Peter Boyce II is an investor at General Catalyst Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm headquartered in Cambridge, MA with offices in Palo Alto and NYC. In addition to his work at GC, he also co-founded & manages Rough Draft Ventures (an initiative to encourage more entrepreneurship on college campuses).Through his work at the university level leading Rough Draft Ventures, he supports a community of over 90 early-stage teams started out of universities.

Jeremy King is executive vice president and chief technology officer for all U.S. Walmart stores and ecommerce. His organization consists of U.S. retail technology, @WalmartLabs, and Jet technology – including a global presence in infrastructure, cloud and data platforms. Jeremy has been on the forefront of cloud computing and brings over 20 years of experience to building highly available and scalable technology platforms to support global commerce operations.

Christopher James is a Senior Managing Director of The Blackstone Group and Chief Operating Officer of Blackstone Tactical Opportunities. Chris is a member of the Investment Committee for the Tactical Opportunities funds. As part of his responsibilities managing the Tactical Opportunities funds, Chris regularly meets and advises entrepreneurs and business builders regarding their investment and business ideas. Prior to launching Tactical Opportunities in 2012, Mr. James previously managed a number of the firm’s business development and growth efforts.

About the Finalists

101 : Reimagining the college STEM classroom with student engagement tools for active learning. [Contact Justin Weinberg, jb@101edu.co, or visit 101edu.co.]

Dycap Media Solutions : Dycap develops software to automate filming using recognition (edge, motion, facial) connects to any pan tilt zoom camera, removing the need for an operator. [Contact Armand Sepulveda, asepulveda@dycap.co, or visit dycap.co.]

Find Your Ditto : A mobile platform that connects individuals living with the same chronic illness locally for on-demand, in-person support. [Contact Parisa Soraya, parisa@findyourditto.com, or visit findyourditto.com.]

Omnipointment : Helps students find time for group meetings and helps teachers understand how their student teams are working together. [Contact Vinesh Kannan, vinesh@omnipointment.com, or visit omnipointment.com.]

Parihug : Wifi-enabled teddy bears that allow loved ones to hug each other from all over the world. [Contact Xyla Foxlin, xyla@parihug.com, or visit parihug.com.]

Reflexion Interactive Technologies : By screening for concussions more often, we can reduce the risk for neurological damage and decrease the liability of athletic organization. [Contact Matthew Campagna, matt.c@reflexioninteractive.com, or visit reflexioninteractive.com.]

Swifte : Transforming the way university students and community carpools by creating a social platform for users to SHARE the ride, SPLIT the cost, and SAVE the environment. [Contact Justine Avoudikpon, justinea@uga.edu, or visit getswifte.com.]

Theatre Galleria : Online marketplace that connects and facilitates exchanges between theaters, theater professionals, prop houses, and costume houses. [Contact Jacquelyn Kroeger, jackie@theatregalleria.com, or visit theatregalleria.com.]


Converse VR : This startup develops educational VR and AR games and experiences to enhance engagement through experiential learning. [Contact Ashton Kennedy, ashtonnkennedy@gmail.com, or visit conversevr.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 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 ( https://studentstartupmadness.com ), see us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter: @StartupMad.