Tuesday, December 8, 2020, was a busy day for WashU entrepreneurship. The day began with the seven Skandalaris Venture Competition (SVC) Finalists presenting their ideas to a panel of esteemed judges and ended with the WashU Entrepreneurship awards, a recognition of the achievements of the startups in the Skandalaris Venture Competition, Olin’s Big IdeaBounce®, and the Hatchery. Over $40,000 was awarded to nearly 40 teams. One of the highlights of the night was the presentation of the Skandalaris Venture Competition winners by Skandalaris Center Managing Director and Assistant Vice Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, II Luscri, and Assistant Director of Venture Development Cyril Loum.
“It is an honor to partner with NSIN, Holekamp Seed Fund, and Olin’s Entrepreneurship Program to present the WashU Entrepreneurship Awards. We must now more than ever celebrate the innovative achievements of our entrepreneurial students and alumni”, shared II Luscri. “I continue to admire how these ventures are addressing the world’s problems.”
The Skandalaris Venture Competition is made possible by the generous support from Skandalaris National Council member Kishore Kanakamedala. From the finalist’s written summaries and presentations, three winners were chosen.
First place and the $10,000 cash prize was awarded to Cedars Health, Inc., an implantable device that provides immediate and permanent relief of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) symptoms without complications. The team of Raphael Chung (BS’19, MS ’20), Kevin Park (BS ’20), and Dr. Arett (Associate Professor of Surgery, School of Medicine). “SVC was a great opportunity for us to refine our pitch and present our startup. We strove to make our presentation clear and impactful so that we could get our message across in a short period of time. We are thankful that the judges understood and believed in our vision,” Raphael Chung. “We will be using the award to make our prototypes and acquire materials for experiments.”
Cedars Health, Inc. was also selected as the fifth runner-up in Olin’s Big IdeaBounce®.
The 2nd place winner, Lifted Pouches, received $7,500 for their “ready to consume” pre-workout supplement for the health-conscious individual on the go. Tuesday was a successful night for the team of Derek Leiter (MBA ’21), Tyler Edwards (MBA ’21), Marguerite Whitelaw (MBA ’21), and Zach Hechtman (BSBA ’21), who also won 2nd place in The Hatchery (Olin Cup) and 2nd place in Olin’s Big IdeaBounce®. Speaking on behalf of the team Derek described the benefits of SVC for Lifted Pouches, “while participating in SVC, I began to understand through multiple judges' feedback and questions on how to construct a story that has a broader impact on possible investors. Addressing their concerns and questions allowed me to understand how those on the other end of my presentations were perceiving my product.” Lifted Pouches plans to use their winnings to place their first production run orders from their manufacturing partners and to bring the product to market.
Golden Roots Essentials was the 3rd place winner and recipient of $5,000. Fanta Kaba (MBA ’21), has developed a natural, holistic, and luxurious lifestyle brand focused on personal care, beauty, and style. Golden Roots Essentials utilizes overlooked centuries-old traditional African skincare rituals and ingredients to create innovative healthy skincare products.
Reflecting on her win Fanta shared, "Winning a pitch competition is always refreshing! It gives a sense of validation in the very thing you live and work so hard for. With the SVC Pitch Competition prize money, Golden Roots will be heavily investing in branding efforts. From packaging to social media presence to our website. We feel so excited and grateful for such an opportunity.”
Applications for the Spring 2021 Skandalaris Venture Competition Cycle are open now through February 1, 2021. We encourage any current WashU students and alumni within one year of graduation with an early-stage venture or idea to enter!