Student startup teams from the University of Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis, and Cornell University are top three finalists, with University of Chicago’s Reliefwatch named the 2014-15 SSM National Champion
RELEASE Wednesday, March 23, 2015 — The last of the diehards are leaving Austin this morning after 10 days of South By Southwest (SXSW). And, on campuses across the country, some of the hottest student startups are returning to classes after competing against each on the stage at SXSW Interactive.
A social venture from the University of Chicago, Reliefwatch, led by Daniel Yu is the winner of the Student Startup Madness (SSM) 2014-15 National Championship Finals, held at the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas. There, eight top teams of students—The Entrepreneurial Eight—from universities across the country pitched their ventures to a world-class judging panel of entrepreneurs, investors and technologists as a partner program of SXSW’s Startup Village.
Reliefwatch is a cloud-based inventory management platform for health organizations in the developing world, designed to track inventory through the use of basic mobile phones that clinic workers already have. In second place was Betaversity, from Washington University in St. Louis, which sells BetaBox, a maker lab in a shipping container, and Atlas, a job-matching tool targeted at engineers, to more than 25 university and corporate clients. Third place went to Yorango, from Cornell University, with an end-to-end solution for tenants and landlords integrating management Software as a Service (SaaS) with easy-to-navigate listings.
Heather Dawn Miller, an SSM judge and co-founder of August|Endeavor of Salt Lake City, Utah, also made a surprise announcement at the event and awarded to all the SSM Entrepreneurial Eight teams unexpected monetary prizes: $5,000 for first place, $3,000 for second, $2,000 for third and $1,000 to each of the rest. She and her co-founder/husband, Bryan Miller, also announced a three-year commitment to provide monetary prizes via the Student Startup Madness finals.
“The Millers have been talking to us about doing something exciting to help these college entrepreneurs follow their passions and support their dreams of a better world,” says Sean Branagan, SSM founder and director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. “This multi-year agreement with August|Endeavor will give students a new incentive to compete, as well as help our students and their ventures expand and grow.”
“Seeing all these young entrepreneurs on stage pitching their ventures and hearing their plans to change the world was inspiring and amazing,” Branagan says. “They definitely inspired the Millers, and I think that was the best group of finalists we have ever had.”
SSM’s “Entrepreneurial Eight” Finals were held Monday, March 16, in the Hilton Hotel in downtown Austin. Emcee and judge Tim Dickson (formerly an executive at Dell) kept the event moving and added some humor and lighthearted comments to the mix of tough business questions. The judging panel included:
- Kristina Hahn, head of Consumer Packaged Goods, Google;
- Raymond Laos, managing director of investment, Strategic Investments Group, Samsung Open Innovation Center;
- Anis Uzzaman, co-founder and CEO, Fenox Venture Capital; and
- Heather Dawn Miller, co-founder, August|Endeavor (who recused herself from the judging when she decided to give a monetary award to the teams instead)
Each of the top three teams received subscriptions to Mattermark, Yesware and FounderSuite, as well as cloud hosting services from Rackspace. (With a total value to each team of approximately $2,000 to $3,000).
- the First Place winner received a $5,000 check from August|Endeavor;
- the Second Place winner received a $3,000 check from August|Endeavor; and
- the Third Place winner received a $2,000 check from August|Endeavor.
The top vote-getter—Reliefwatch—was named the Student Startup Madness 2014-15 National Champion and was awarded the SSM Rocket Trophy with all the bragging rights for the team and the University of Chicago.
About the Entrepreneurial Eight Finalists
BetaVersity: The company offers BetaBox, a maker lab in a shipping container; and Atlas, a job-matching tool targeted at engineers, for 25+ university and corporate clients. [Contact Blake Marggraff, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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, email@example.com, 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, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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, email@example.com, or visit locoapp.co.]
Reliefwatch: A platform for organizations in the developing world to track inventory through basic mobile phones. [Contact Daniel Yu, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit reliefwatch.com.]
Spray N’ Pray Studios: A game development company that believes narrative and gameplay function as one, not as two pieces is a complex puzzle. “Ready, Fire, Aim!” [Contact Kynton Stephens, email@example.com, 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, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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, email@example.com, or visit yorango.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. 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.
The tournament has been promoted and supported by ten anchor universities in eight regions across the country: Cornell University and Seton Hall in the Northeast, Bucknell University in the Mid-Atlantic, Georgia State University in the Southeast, Michigan State University in the Great Lakes, the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana and Saint Louis University in the Midwest, Arizona State University in the Southwest, the University of Washington at Tacoma in the Northwest and the University of California at Davis in the West.
Student Startup Madness debuted in 2012 at SXSW Interactive. In 2013, SSM was selected as a SXSW Partner Program and invited into the main venue of SXSW Startup Village and since then has been a SXSW Partner Program.