College of Business > News & Events > DePaul Alumni and Students Pitch Startups at Purpose Pitch Competition
By Jaclyn Lansbery | Photos by Kathy Hillegonds /
May 23, 2019 /
Posted in: Alumni, Students, Research and Centers /
A mix of DePaul alumni and students competed in the Coleman Center's annual Purpose Pitch Competition on May 14 at 1871, Chicago’s tech business incubator. the founders of six companies split $25,000 in award money.
Bruce Leech, executive director of the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center, introduced the participants who pitched their purpose-driven business ventures at the annual Purpose Pitch Competition at 1871 on May 14.
Bevon Joseph, a 2019 MS in Entrepreneurship candidate, pitched his business venture, The Greenwood Project, a nonprofit that helps academically talented youth from underresourced Chicago communities gain access to the finance and tech industries.
Kevin Sofen (MBA ’16) pitched his business venture, Wristponsible, which raises awareness and funds for grassroots water projects by creating a community of action.
Ann Foley (LAS ’99), winner of the 2018 Purpose Pitch Competition, provided the audience with an update on her business, 10th Avenue Tea, which delivers instant matcha tea powder in an eco-friendly shaker bottle.
Student participants Ari Carter, a DePaul MBA candidate, and Peyton Pritikin (right) took home third place for their business, Cloche, an online investment platform for millennial women.
DePaul PhD candidates and alumni Badar Al Lawati (MS ’11) and Redar Ismail (MS ’15) took home second prize for their business idea, BridgeLink, which mediates the process of fair-employment through a platform designed for refugees and employers.
Graduate business student Bevon Joseph took home the first prize for his business, The Greenwood Project, a nonprofit that helps academically talented youth from underresourced Chicago communities gain access to the finance and tech industries.
Alumni participant Evan Mahoney (BUS ’07) took home third place for his business, Profile Peace, a social media closure and memorialization service that helps social media users lay online profiles to rest.
Alumni participant Kevin Sofen (MBA ’16) took home second place for his business, Wristponsible, which raises awareness and funds for grassroots water projects by creating a community of action.
Alumni participant Dianna Harris (MFA ’15, MS ’18) took home the top prize for her business, The Corner, a small business incubator and collaborative space for Southside Chicagoans.
Six DePaul alumni and students pitched their purpose-driven businesses at the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center’s third annual Purpose Pitch Competition May 14.
More than 250 people attended the competition, which was held at 1871, Chicago’s tech business incubator. The event featured a unique pitch competition where founders had five minutes to present their startups’ purposes – instead of pitching investors on its profit-making potential – in front of four judges. The six companies split $25,000 in award money and were ranked from first to third place. Jessica Droste Yagan – CEO and managing partner of Impact Engine, a venture capital firm that invests in social and environmental projects—served as the keynote speaker following the pitch sessions.
“Starting a business that does good and in turn does well for all stakeholders fits very closely with our mission of the Coleman Center, and we were proud to host this competition again this year,” says Bruce Leech, executive director of the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center at DePaul. “While we also acknowledge that each business had to have a strong and sustainable business model, we were very pleased to honor each business for their strong sense of purpose and mission.”
The six startups competing for the top prize included:
Joseph, who began working in finance as an information technology services provider on a New York trading floor, says he plans to use his award money to implement proper infrastructure and human capital needed to support his business’s rapid growth.
“As a mission-driven business serving students from under-resourced communities and financial services firms simultaneously, we are able to bridge the gap between two parties whose paths do not normally intersect,” Joseph says. “The impact of our work can be measured in the jobs we create and the positive return on investment of our corporate partners.”
Harris says she plans to use the award money to renovate her business space and launch a marketing campaign. “The mission of The Corner is to launch businesses that have a positive impact on the community and will bring resources and good that will empower residents and create jobs,” she says. “We are so excited to pass on entrepreneurial tools to the community. We love the Southside and this is our love letter it.”