Several Illinois Tech students have been chosen to participate in the Student Startup Madness Tournament. Sunny Shah and Mohsin Haider’s project “Eco Eats” and Vinesh Kannan’s “Omnipointment” will compete with sixty-two other college student startups across the nation for top honors and the SSM National Championship. The teams in the “SSM64” come from 38 colleges and universities—from large state universities to small private colleges, from technical institutes to liberal arts schools.
The first two rounds of the tournament will be held online, and the competition culminates with the finals at South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive in Austin, Texas, on Monday, March 14, 2016, when the Entrepreneurial Eight will pitch to a panel of startup judges who will declare the champion.
Student Startup Madness (SSM) is the only nationwide collegiate tournament focused on digital media startups. It affords college student startups the opportunity to compete against fellow student entrepreneurs, grab the attention of potential investors and supporters, and build an elite professional network. At the SSM finals at SXSW, eight elite college student startups will each pitch their business to well-known investors and entrepreneurs who can help them transform their idea into success.
“We received applications from colleges and universities from all over the country,” says Sean Branagan, creator of the SSM concept and tournament, and director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. “The quality of the talent and innovation is impressive. Entrepreneurship on campus is booming, and it shows!”
Each round of the nationwide tournament will build momentum, awareness and social media buzz, drawing attention to colleges and universities as sources for innovation, entrepreneurship and talent while showcasing university entrepreneurship and encouraging college students to start businesses.
More than 100 teams applied online between August and December 4, 2015. The first round of competition will be held online among the 64 startup teams, with judging conducted via Gust.com, a platform used by angel investors around the world.
From the starting field, 32 semi-finalists will be chosen and advance to the next round. By late January, the Entrepreneurial Eight finalists will be selected. The SSM Finals and Championship event will be held at SXSW’s Startup Village main venue in the downtown Hilton Austin.