DePaul University’s Coleman Entrepreneurship Center hosted a Final Four Business Pitch competition at 1871, Chicago’s tech business incubator, to explore the best startups emerging from Midwest universities. Participating in the July 31 competition were student and alumni teams from DePaul along with Michigan State University, Purdue University and the University of Illinois System's Discovery Partners Institute. The competition attracted one of the largest crowds to attend an event in 1871’s auditorium.
Each university selected five teams to create displays about their startups and talk with attendees about their business ideas. Attendees—which included faculty, staff, students and alumni from the four schools plus local entrepreneurs—voted for one top team from each university to set up the Final Four showdown. These four teams competed in live, five-minute pitch sessions and answered questions from a panel of judges. The four finalists split the event’s $8,000 prize.
“This event is one of many that our Coleman Entrepreneurship Center hosts each year to provide opportunities for students to pitch their new venture ideas and engage with other entrepreneurs,” says Driehaus College of Business Dean Misty Johanson, a Michigan State alumna. “It’s part of DePaul’s rich history of entrepreneurship education, hands-on learning and industry engagement.”
DePaul’s Final Four entry was the Greenwood Project. Bevon Joseph, who is earning a master's degree in entrepreneurship at DePaul, is the founder and president of this non-profit organization that introduces academically talented youth from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods to careers in the financial industry, using paid summer internships as an entryway.
The other DePaul student and alumni team entries were:
- Universala Esports. Esteban Perez, a Driehaus student, is planning to create a community-centered business with the goal of providing e-sports centers for young people throughout Chicago and beyond.
- Damned Damsels. Meghan Conwell (COM ’18) founded Damned Damsels as an initiative to help the underrepresented be seen and heard in the music industry. A community built around the idea of equality, Damned Damsels will host pop-up shows and discussions, as well as a user-generated blog to connect, encourage, support and inspire people in all aspects of the music industry.
- Neon Jungle. Mike Schulz (COM ’18) is the creator of Neon Jungle, a digital anthology series about a collection of diverse heroes, anti-heroes and villains fighting to survive within a dystopian science fantasy world.
- Digital Springboard. Digital Springboard enables brands to activate existing audiences to reach their networks. Lance Sanderson, a DePaul undergraduate business student, founded the company to create a more personal and authentic link between content and individuals in a brand’s audience.
View a photo gallery to find out more, including which startup competed for the top prize.
Learn more about DePaul’s entrepreneurship programs: