The event takes place Monday, March 12, in Austin as part of South By Southwest Interactive

RELEASE Friday, March 9, 2012 — Five student digital media entrepreneurship teams have been selected to compete in the Student Startup Madness (SSM) kick-off pitchfest at the South By Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas: Craftistas, IntQ, Karaoke World Cup, StrideSync and WalkBack.

Student participants hail from the Aalto University School of Economics (Finland), Helsinki University (Finland), Syracuse University, Trinity University (Texas), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of Virginia.

The kick-off pitchfest is Monday, March 12, from 9-11:30 a.m. at Maria Maria La Cantina, 415 Colorado St., Austin. The event is open to all SXSW badge holders.

“We received a great response from colleges all over the United States—and from overseas,” says Sean Branagan, SSM founder and the director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. “These five teams were selected based on the merit of their venture as a fundable, scalable digital startup. On Monday, they will be judged on these same criteria by our panel of investors and entrepreneurs. It’s going to be a terrific experience for these students.”

At Monday’s event, the student 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.

Each 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 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 teams

Craftistas’ concept is to make crafting convenient by offering pre-assembled craft kits through a monthly subscription website, Craftistas craft kits contain the materials and instructions to conveniently create a personalized item. Kits may be purchased monthly, semi-annually or annually. Craftistas combines two of what Mashable describes as the hottest business trends: the do-it-yourself movement and online monthly subscription services.

IntQ is a software solution for media companies enabling real-time social feedback from television viewers, especially during live on-air interviews. IntQ has two components: The user component is a mobile application that allows users to pose questions and comments; these questions/comments can be voted up and down by other users. The client component allows media companies to view the questions/comments in an aggregate, sorted form, with priority order based on user votes, thereby allowing the client to see what viewers wish an interviewer would ask the interviewee.

Karaoke World Cup (, based in Helsinki, Finland, combines the online world and the real world, offering a karaoke singing experience and competition enriched with social networking elements and multiple game formats for all levels of singers.

The StrideSync team has designed an application that gives users the necessary tools to make exercise fun, using external motivation (music), social motivation (partners and competition) and internal motivation (goals and progression or statistical history). StrideSync is a fitness social network built off of a mobile app. Users can create virtual workout rooms (Strides) that allow them to listen to the same music at the same time as other users. Individuals can work out with each other by analyzing compatibilities within music preferences, athletic abilities, proximity and schedules. They can also join networks represented as companies, universities, professional teams or any organization, and interact with other members of the same network.

WalkBack is a mobile app that puts safety in the hands of students and empowers them to improve the safety of their campus by communicating proactively with friends and university officials. WalkBack leverages mobile technology to help friends walk each other home late at night, provide valuable data to authorities, and give students fast access to emergency resources. With the WalkBack app, users physically bump their mobile devices together. This creates a connection in which each friend can check on the other’s safety status and location, and be notified automatically when the other safely arrives home.

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

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Contact: Kevin Morrow
(315) 443-2998