On Friday, April 17, 2020, Boston University’s Innovate@BU initiative awarded $64,000 to six student and alumni startups in the annual New Venture Competition.
Over 350 students, faculty, staff, friends, and family logged on virtually for what is typically Innovate@BU’s in-person end-of-year celebration.
The New Venture Competition began in October with Round 1: Pitch & Pizza when over 100 student and alumni ventures presented 60-second pitches without slides. Twenty-two teams moved on to Round 2: Semi-finals where they presented 10-minute pitches to judges made up of Boston-area entrepreneurs and business leaders. Twelve teams competed in Round 3: Finals where they presented a final 10-minute pitch.
Judges in the final round, who are all senior leaders in their fields, were looking for “committed and skilled teams, solid data-driven ideas, and a clear and well-articulated vision of how their ventures will make a positive impact on others in the community and the world,” said Gerry Fine, Executive Director of Innovate@BU.
During the event, each of the twelve finalists presented a 60-second pitch before the following top three winners were announced in each track: Tech/For-profit Ideas and Social Impact Ideas.
1st Place: $18,000
- Tech Track: Clean Seat, a company that has designed a retrofittable toilet seat that cheaply and effectively prevents common toilet messes.
- Social Impact Track: Patient First is building a digital medical record platform that connects physicians, patients and pharmacies.
“This victory feels like a confirmation that all of the heart and soul, and countless hours we have poured into Clean Seat have not been wasted,” said CleanSeat founder Kevin Tang (Questrom School of Business ’22), “It feels absolutely amazing.”
Tang said that the prize money will allow their team to dedicate the summer towards finishing and testing prototypes and continue its patent application.
“Farooq, Fayzan and I were overwhelmed winning first place,” said Patient First cofounder Fiza Shaukat (College of Engineering ‘17), “Seeing all our hard work and finally securing first position was an amazing and overwhelming experience and we knew it was the next big step for Patient First.”
The team plans to use the prize money for product and partnership development. Cofounder Fayzan Shaukout (Questrom School of Business ‘22) added that “the New Venture Competition has truly made this vision of fixing a broken healthcare system come to life and I’m sure with the community that surrounds us right here at BU we will be able to save millions of lives.”
2nd Place: $8,000
- Tech Track: BeagleNet, a network of sensing devices designed to get real-time data about urban environments into your hands.
- Social Impact Track: Phillinda, an accessibility tool where users can fill out forms in their native language and translate them back to English.
3rd Place: $6,000
- Tech Track: Parkaze, an online shared economy marketplace where users can host and rent privately owned parking spots.
- Social Impact Track: The Mindful Applicant, a SaaS platform for high schools to teach social-emotional skills through college and career prep.
Two $500 Audience Choice Awards were won by Phillinda, third place social impact track winners, and Holdette, makers of professional women’s workwear with real pockets.
Rachel Spekman, Program Director of Business Ventures and the lead staff member of the competition, noted that “Whether it was the very first Round 1: Pitch & Pizza way back in November or watching a team practice just yesterday, one thing is undeniable–everyone has put their best efforts forward.”
Innovate@BU also announced the recipients of its two annual awards. Janice Ozguc received The Henry Morgan Award for her dedication to mentoring and coaching Boston University student entrepreneurs. After a successful career at major corporations including IBM, Toshiba, and Mitsubishi, she used her experience to lead startups including Octalica, a semiconductor producer that was acquired by Broadcom. She also cofounded Artware, a developer of mobile apps for social photo sharing.
Jenna Crawford (School of Theology ’21) and Sarah Greisdorf (College of Arts & Sciences ’20) both received the Innovate@BU Student of the Year Award. The award is given to students who support and grow BU’s innovation and entrepreneurship communities and help spread the mission of Innovate@BU across the University.
Crawford has served as an Innovate@BU student intern for over two years and played an integral role in launching the project track for Innovate@BU’s signature program, the Innovation Pathway. Greisdorf, a New Venture Competition finalist and founder of Holdette, has been an active member of the Innovate@BU community since it’s 2018 launch. Throughout her time at BU, she has been a champion for women entrepreneurs by providing mentorship and programming for her peers across the University.
A recording of the event can be viewed on YouTube and more information about the competition finalists can be found in the New Venture Competition Lookbook.