Collegiate entrepreneurs from schools like Pitt, Florida State, Clemson and NC State gathered in Raleigh Wednesday for a different kind of ‘March Madness.’ These business-minded students were not on a basketball court. Instead, they were bouncing around a working prototype in hopes of winning a big check and a foot in the start-up world.
‘Startup Madness’ works in some of the same ways as the basketball tournament: a bracket-style competition with ‘Elite Eight’ and ‘Final Four’ rounds, and – according to the event website – “bragging rights will be involved," however they explicitly recommend against painting chests.
Students have only about three minutes to make their pitch before a panel of judges, who decide winners based on the scope of their idea, how well they pitch, and what it will take for their prototype to succeed in the business world. Graduate and undergraduate teams are eligible to enter, and the winning entrepreneurial group receives $5,000.
‘Startup Madness’ was launched two years ago by Scott Kelly. Duke, NC State and UNC participated. Last year, eleven Atlantic Coast Conference schools participated. Students from the University of Miami won the top prize and walked away with the $5,000 check. Their start-up company was called ‘Cohealo,’ which was designed to eliminate waste and redundancy in group health care systems. Kelly told the NC State Poole College of Management that ACC schools are full of talent.
“We need to do our part to ensure that there’s a steady influx of new, regional innovation by showing strong support for our entrepreneurial community,” says Kelly.
This year, 14 universities and over 20 teams participated. Team names were inventive and unusual: Jobbertunity from Duke, FinAddix from Florida State, and Traade from UNC Chapel Hill were just a few that competed for the title. The winner was Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream from the University of Miami.
‘Startup Madness’ was held at NC State’s James B. Hunt Library on Centennial Campus. The Research Triangle Park sponsored this year’s ‘Startup Madness’ Final Four. The Poole College of Management was the Championship Sponsor.