CS Undergrad Vinesh Kannan Competes in U.Pitch, Named “50 on Fire” Semifinalist

Vinesh Kannan (CS 2nd year)—Camras scholar, board member of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization, and co-creator of Omnipointment—has received a number of recent recognitions:

  • Future Founders’ U.Pitch: Kannan is a semifinalist in this pitch competition, which will take place on Thursday, November 10 at 1871. Students from universities all over the country will compete for a portion of a $10,000 prize.

Kannan co-created the app Omnipointment with friend Brendan Batliner during Northwestern University’s Wildhacks last fall, placing in the top 10 of 200 projects. At U.Pitch, Kannan will give his updated pitch, including how Omnipointment gives educators metrics about team participation.

This summer, Kannan and Batliner participated in the 90-day Straight Shot Accelerator Program, which is part of the Global Accelerator Network, and Straight Shot provided Omnipointment’s seed round. At the end of the accelerator, Kannan and Batliner launched a new Education Toolkit to help teachers get insights about how their students collaborate on group projects. The two now have their first paying clients.

  • 50 on Fire: Kannan was named a semifinalist in the “50 on Fire” awards sponsored by Chicago Inno, recognizing Chicago’s “inventors, disruptors, luminaries, and newsmakers.”
  • Inno U Challenge: Kannan along with Dev Bharel (CS 3rd year) participated in this pitch challenge, which pitted 15 startups from Chicago-area universities against eachother.
  • Think Chicago: Kannan’s project HomeHub Services was a finalist in this year’s ThinkChicago at Ideas Week Civic Tech Challenge competition. His project for last year’s Civic Tech Challenge, Graffiti Graph, won first place.
  • SLU Pure Ideas Generator Challenge: Kannan and Jigar Dedhia (PSYCH 3rd year) won second place in a competition to design a solution to a problem for St. Louis’ mayor.

Kannan, who was student council president at Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) and is from Schaumburg, did not come to Illinois Tech specifically to be an entrepreneur. But he was interested in the university’s IPRO program and human-centered design practices and has found a mentor in Nik Rokop, Industry Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship.

“I’ve known Vinesh since he came to Illinois Tech as a first year,” said Rokop. “He is mature beyond his years. He took on leadership of the CEO student chapter on campus and developed an active, vibrant organization. He is already giving back to the community.”

One of Kannan’s favorites is Chi Hack Night, a central hub for Chicago’s civic tech community that meets Tuesdays from 6–8 p.m. at Braintree in Chicago. Kannan encourages more Illinois Tech students to participate. “It’s for open civic hacking,” he said. “A lot of apps have come out of it, like a predictive analytics tool for E. coli on Chicago’s beaches. It is about making life better, and it gives you a chance to work with people of different backgrounds and network.”

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