We can’t begin to summarize the incredible experience that was the 2017 Final Pitch Night. A special audience of one hundred guests watched in awe as eight startups gave it their all and pitched for the chance to win the grand prizes in each of the four categories. To us, everyone was a winner last night. And as our Director Lindsay Siegel put it, we revere our students and we find them all inspiring. They are the truest entrepreneurs because for them, it’s never about the money, it’s about the causes they’re supporting, the problems they want to solve, the people they want to help, and the fact that this is their chance to prove themselves. This is their chance to have a voice.
But, there can only be four grand prize winners. It is with great excitement that I announce the top startups in each category:
Wrkbook, a platform that connects contractors with skilled laborers won the grand prize for this category, sponsored by the Moxie Foundation. The Wrkbook team includes William De Andrade, an undergrad pursuing a degree in Economics at CCNY; Yuk Kee Chang, a sophomore computer engineering major; and Eric Wiener, a senior at the High School for Math, Science and Engineering on City College’s campus. William was inspired by his father, a local contractor, to develop Wrkbook. With $25,000, the team will be sure to finish development of their app and reach a broader customer base.
Zahn Social Impact:
SyStem, a computer garden that grows food without soil or harmful chemicals, won the grand prize of $25,000 for this category. The Zahn Social Impact prize is also sponsored by the Moxie Foundation, and supports social enterprises or ventures with environmental stewardship at their core. The SyStem team is made up of Adrian Logan and Alex Babich, both computer engineering students at CCNY. They consider SyStem the future of food, and are inspired by the current state of the environment to come up with smarter ways to grow food. We’re excited to see how SyStem develops this summer!
Standard Chartered Women + Tech4NYC:
City LABscape, a hands-on indoor agriculture-based STEM education initiative won first place in this category and $25,000. The track, sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank, encourages women-led technology ventures to create solutions for issues specific to New York City. The City LABscape team is made up of Wei Zhang and Jorge Burgos, senior architecture students, as well as Sabrina Cohn, a sophomore studying environmental engineering. The prize money will help them reach more students, as they plan to pilot their program with more middle schools in the area. This summer, they also plan to test their prototype with families who homeschool their children.
Active Hands, a monitoring device that enables patients to take the clinic home with them, won the Kaylie Hardware Prize for $50,000. This prize is an endowment sponsored by City College alum Harvey Kaylie, founder of Mini Circuits. The Active Hands team is made up of biomedical engineering students Amanda Bernstein, Ralph Hertz, Sam Tran, and Ankush Thakur; their team is rounded out by expert salesman Mark Hase. With $50,000, Active Hands will accelerate production of their prototype for an upcoming trial they plan to conduct with physical therapy patients this summer.
These winning startups were chosen by four separate panels of elite judges, one for each track. Judges included Howard Morgan, Co-Founder of First Round Capital; Minerva Tantoco, former CTO of New York City and Advisor at Future Perfect Ventures; Jason Feifer, Editor-in-Cheif at Entrepreneur Magazine; Peter Zahn, President of the Moxie Foundation; and Bert Brodsky, distinguished alum and Owner of Sandata Technologies, Inc. Other expert judges included Gilda Barabino, Scott Cohen, Richard Kerby, Amar Rathor, Chris Reim, Alice Rodd O’Rourke, and Kimberly Yarnell.
We are so thankful for those who joined us in supporting these outstanding startups last night (and for those who were there in spirit!). In the upcoming months, we’ll work closely with these startups to maintain goals and meet specific milestones. We cannot wait to share their progress with you, but in the meantime, check back next week for some exciting news about our Summer Accelerator!