Students, Local Entrepreneurs Compete in Pitch Competition at USG for $10K Prize

The Lab for Entrepreneurship and Transformative Leadership at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) wrapped up its 1st Annual Equity Incubator program with an exciting “Shark Tank” style competition on December 7, as students and local entrepreneurs competed for a chance to win a $10,000 grand prize to fund their initiative, or an audience-selected $1,000 prize.

The Equity Incubator and Showcase events were sponsored by the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation and the Blair Family Foundation.

Five local companies competed against each other after eight weeks of workshops, research, experiments, and mentorship opportunities. At the beginning of the program, each team of students was paired with one of the following entrepreneur mentors to meet on a weekly basis:

Held in the Biomedical Science and Engineering Building at USG, the evening opened with a VIP networking hour where the competing students had the opportunity to meet the judges and other key figures in attendance. Marc Steren, Director, and Katherine Zmoda, Program Manager, from USG’s Entrepreneurship Lab then welcomed guests and introduced the judges (Dr. Anne Khademian, Executive Director of USG, David Blair, Chairman of Accountable Health, and Ben Wu, President and CEO of Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation), who heard from the five teams that were selected out of 20 applicants to present their business ideas:

  1. Code & Play, an online platform for remote K-12 coding and computer science classes (Felipe De Padua)
  2. Dorothy’s Place, a HIPAA-compliant photo and video sharing platform to streamline communication between therapists, parents, and autistic children (Colleen Baldwin)
  3. MUSA, a nonprofit  organization to promote Malagasy culture through events and social projects (Rovasoa Timothy Andrianarison, Yannrick Andriantsoa, and Riana Mikaël Rabemananjara)
  4. Hubble Financial, a low-cost data provider for the financial services and insurance industry that transforms large and complex data sets into easy-to-use decision-making tools (Christine Nolan)
  5. Noble Uprising, a nonprofit organization that empowers economically impoverished women with health resources, high-quality career readiness, and workforce training  L. Audrey Awasom)

After each presentation, the judges asked further questions of the entrepreneurs. During the judges’ deliberation, the audience selected MUSA as the recipient of the $1,000 Audience Choice Award. The $10,000 first place prize, selected by the judges, was then awarded to Code & Play. Some notable achievements among the teams include:

  • Dorothy’s Place established its first paying customer;
  • MUSA was approved as a nonprofit organization and increased its revenue six-fold;
  • Noble Uprising, a nonprofit, launched two new programs to support underrepresented and homeless women;
  • Hubble Financial learned how to use OKRs (outcome and key results used at Google) to set Q1 goals and metrics;
  • Using a Blue Ocean strategy they learned in the incubator, Code & Play generated $33,000+ in additional revenue to find a new segment;
  • In total, the teams reached 500+ new users/customers.

Congratulations to Code & Play and all of the other participants!

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