The Future Founders Foundation, a non-profit organization that inspires youth in Chicagoland to explore and practice entrepreneurship, hosted their inaugural U.Pitch Regional College Elevator Pitch Competition on November 17 in downtown Chicago. During the event, 10 student finalists pitched their business concepts at a high-energy “Shark Tank” style event, competing for regional honors and $10,000 in cash prizes.
Daniel Yu from The University of Chicago took first place and won the audience vote for his company Reliefwatch (http://www.reliefwatch.com), a platform for health organizations in the developing world to track essential supplies and report disease cases.
Elizabeth Ames from DePaul University won second place for EarlyVention (http://earlyvention.com), a company that supplies parents and therapists with comprehensive therapy toolkits and materials to significantly improve the development of children with autism.
Jason Li from The University of Chicago placed third with QuadGuru (www.quadguru.com), a platform that personalizes the generic campus tour by connecting a prospective student with a current college student whose track is most relevant to the recruit.
Samuel Lurye from Lincoln Park High School won fourth place for Social Synergy Media’s Kiss App (@mykissapp), an app that allows users to anonymously gauge their chances for a romantic relationship with people in their social circles.
“U.Pitch allowed us to highlight some of the most promising young entrepreneurs in the Chicago region,” said Scott Issen, President & CEO, Future Founders Foundation. “The competition proves that entrepreneurs of all ages can create compelling, innovative ideas that are solving some of society’s most pressing problems. It’s our responsibility to support these entrepreneurs and provide opportunities for collaboration to ensure Chicago remains a hub for innovation.”
U.Pitch brought together the best students from a cross-section of Chicagoland universities in the ultimate regional elevator pitch competition. Students had 90 seconds to pitch their business ideas live plus field questions from judges. In addition to the pitches, finalists and semifinalists showcased their business ideas in an expo-style format.
Judges included Jason Brett, Co-Founder/CEO, MashPlant; Hardik Chaudhari, Senior Director, Card Partnerships, Capital One; Jon Hennessy, Director, John E. and Jeanne T. Hughes Foundation; Phyllis Lockett, CEO, LEAP Innovations; Bill Pescatello, Partner, Lightbank; Julie Smolyansky, President & CEO, Lifeway Foods; and Emerson Spartz, CEO, Spartz. Lauren Jiggetts, Reporter/Anchor, NBC 5 News Chicago emceed the event.
U.Pitch is a key component of the Foundation’s College Founders (www.collegefounders.org) program, which connects students to the best entrepreneurial resources, events and activities in the Chicagoland community. The pitch competition and program were seeded by The Coleman Foundation, The John E. and Jeanne T. Hughes Foundation, Capital One and Crain’s Chicago Business.
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