Davidson College has beautiful red brick sidewalks and a charming Main Street. In addition, the college boasts incredible talent from its undergrads and recent graduates.
Among these talented individuals are the students and alumni who presented their startups at Davidson’s sixth-annual Venture Fund Pitch Competition. It was hosted by the Jay Hurt Hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Participants competed for the chance to win $25,000.
Out of hundreds of applicants, six finalists pitched their business plans to a judging panel. Judges included:
- Bob Irvin, the executive director or Joules
- Tommy Marshall of the Georgia Tech Advanced Technology Development Center
- Cindy Praeger, the co-founder and managing partner of Rhythm Systems, Inc
Three undergrads and three recent alumni participated in the event. Each team had 10 minutes to pitch their ideas and convey why their business ideas deserved the prize money.
First, 2016 graduates Lauren Lu and Jacqueline Shiu pitched Foods2Fight – an app that provides cancer patients and those undergoing chemotherapy with diet plans and recipe ideas based on their unique dietary needs.
Another 2016 graduate came next – Shea Parikh and his startup Jam, which is a scheduling app that allows companies to “match” employees to help foster real connections and friends within the workplace.
Next, Junior Mariem Bchir presented her idea for LEAPS Academy – a program that trains and implements better education practices for teachers in North Africa.
Junior Mikayla Smalls pitched Mobile Movement – an all-in-one beauty bus for special occasions, like proms or weddings.
Sophomores Zane Libke and Nathan Engstrom presented SowChange, a mobile website and app that make philanthropy less exclusive through small donations.
And finally, 2017 graduate Ricky Saad presented Strumline – a website designed to make booking artists easier for venues, and fairer for artists.
While judges deliberated, Kristal High Taylor, a Davidson alumni and former attorney offered the keynote speech. She now runs nFluence.us, an e-commerce, media and technology company focused on increasing civic engagement.
In the end, the judges chose Shea Parikh to take home the $25,000 for his company, Jam.
“It’s definitely validating to get that feedback, especially people who’ve never heard of the company before,” Parikh said. “It’s exciting. My mind is immediately going to how to use this money to move Jam forward.”
But how will the money do that? Parikh said he plans to put it toward engineering his platform and administering it to his first Fortune 500 client.
“Half of it’s going to go towards the client success of it,” he said. “So, taking care of the customers that have bought into what we’re doing, and given us a shot, and executing on the client that we have coming up.”
Louis Forman of Enventys Partners,and Parikh’s mentor for the competition, said that Parikh’s always been very open to feedback. Certainly, the day was a huge success for him.
“He had stiff competition. I thought all the students did a really great job. They’re well prepared and polished,” Forman said. “But Shea’s business, he’s already got market validation, he’s already got initial users, and he definitely delivered today.”