Ending the academic year on a high note, Entrepreneurship@DU’s quarterly competition featured six innovative pitches
The Madden Challenge is a cornerstone of Entrepreneurship@DU’s programming. Many student teams from the Fourth Industrial Revolution class (BUS 1440) apply to take part in the quarterly pitch competition, which has awarded $148,000 in prize money over its 11 years at DU. It was a challenge to narrow down the talented pool of applicants, whose pitches used innovative technologies (artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, etc.) to address real-world problems. In the end, six teams were given the chance to pitch their business ideas to a panel of industry professionals—and a room full of their professors and peers, to boot.
Typically, the Madden Challenge starts off in a “Science Fair” layout. Around 30 teams have a table where they showcase their business model on a posterboard. Some teams even bring a physical prototype. However, this quarter, the event was restructured as a sit-down dinner. Teams pitched their business idea to Entrepreneurship@DU in advance of the competition, and six teams were selected to present a formal pitch at the competition. Attendees enjoyed barbecue chicken and corn bread as they watched these students deliver professional-level pitches.
Students pitched to a panel of industry professionals, who followed up each pitch with a series of questions for the competing students. This quarter’s judges displayed a wide range of entrepreneurial experience:
- Zaneta Kelsey, Co-Founder & CEO of Access Mode
- Jennifer Larson, Founder & Advisor of Hive Digital Minds
- Cedric Lipsey, Founder & CEO of Clusivi
- Gary Walker, Chief Product and Technology Officer of Clusivi
This quarter’s pitches demonstrated a strong understanding of industry trends and technological advancements.
- Hidden Hero is a discreet bracelet designed to protect children from being abducted. With a SIM Card and hidden camera, the bracelet is code word-activated, so parents are notified if their child is in danger.
- Epiband is a bracelet that detects when its wearer goes into anaphylactic shock, delivers epinephrine automatically, and notifies emergency authorities.
- AquaFine is an IoT water sensor that can detect microcontaminants, helping breweries ensure customer safety and abide by FDA laws and regulations.
- SmartStride is a running insole that tracks and analyzes a runner’s technique in real time, providing feedback to help prevent injuries.
- Flow Patch enables its wearers to accurately track their menstrual cycles and physical health through a wearable patch that analyzes hormone levels.
- PROUDsthethic is a customizable, adjustable prosthetic, allowing parents to invest in a long-lasting prosthetic that can grow with their child.
While the judges deliberated, Madden Challenge attendees got a special treat – a bonus pitch from students at the Ricks Center for Gifted Children. All the students were middle school-aged or younger, and their product idea was competitive with that of the college students who pitched before them: a tray-top airplane pillow designed for greater comfort when sleeping on a long flight.
Duncan Dotterer, the innovation and instruction specialist at Ricks, had this to say about the young entrepreneurs:
“It was impressive watching Ricks’ students present their pitch on stage. They were confident and motivated to share their ideas with the DU community. After the night was over, a few students in the group expressed interest in starting a company or working as entrepreneurs in some capacity. It seemed the experience really left an impression on them.”