Future Founders Announces Semifinalists for 2017 U.Pitch National College Elevator Pitch Competition

Future Founders, a non-profit organization that believes every youth can become an entrepreneur, today announced the 18 semifinalists for its 4th Annual U.Pitch National College Elevator Pitch Competition & Showcase presented by Capital One.

U.Pitch brings together the top collegiate entrepreneurs from universities across the country in the ultimate elevator pitch competition. Finalists will compete for a portion of a $10,000 prize pool by pitching to judges that include successful entrepreneurs and investors. The event will take place on Thursday, November 16 from 5:30pm – 8:30pm at 1871 (222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 1212, Chicago). Purchase tickets at: https://futurefoundersupitch2017.eventbrite.com.

“U.Pitch offers an opportunity for Future Founders to spotlight talented collegiate entrepreneurs from across the nation,” said Scott Issen, President & CEO, Future Founders. “We are impressed with the caliber and potential of these students’ innovative ideas and look forward to supporting them on their entrepreneurial journeys.”

The competition will include two rounds: a private semifinals round of 18 pitches and a public finals round of the top six pitches. During the finals, students will have 90 seconds to pitch their business ideas live plus field questions from our distinguished judges. Previous winners include SwineTech, Inc., Seed Slide, and Sokowatch.

Finals Judges

  • Laura Bailey, SVP Community Development Banking/Community Finance, Capital One
  • Dima Elissa, CEO & Founder, VisMed•3D
  • Logan LaHive, Managing Director, Techstars Chicago
  • Matthew Rooda, President & CEO, SwineTech, Inc. (2016 U.Pitch Winner)
  • Alisha Slye, Global Director, Blackstone LaunchPad


Semifinals Judges

  • Nick Arnett, Community Manager, 1517 Fund
  • Monika Black, PhD, Chief Strategy Officer, DyMynd
  • Maria Burud, President, The Zanon Group
  • John Carpenter, Forbes Contributor
  • Karl Darin, Managing Director, Accenture
  • Heidi Hattendorf, Director, Business Innovation & Transformation, Motorola Solutions
  • Dave Kucera, MVP, Head of Financial Institutions Group, Specialty Finance Leadership, Capital One
  • Amor Montes de Oca, Director of Strategic Initiatives, 2112
  • Neal Sales-Griffin, CEO, CodeNow
  • Kathy Steele, CEO, Red Caffeine Marketing + Technology
  • Sean Taylor, Senior Strategy Manager, Motorola Solutions
  • James Zebrowski, Managing Director, Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization


Congratulations to the 2017 U.Pitch Semifinalists!

  • Brittany Barreto, Pheramor, Baylor College of Medicine (TX)
  • Sheridan Clayborne, Shoe Snatcher, Northwestern University (IL)
  • Patrick Crowe, Loophole, Colgate University (NY)
  • Martin Dimitrov, SnapClips, University of Illinois at Chicago (IL)
  • TJ Dishaw, GOVRED, Baker College (MI)
  • Jessica Gartenstein, Bee Nana LLC, University of Chicago (IL)
  • Ryan Hesslau, Crossroad Solutions, Trinity Christian College (IL)
  • Victor Hunt, Paragon Real Estate Technologies, Yale University (CT)
  • Shreshta Khetan, UniRely, New York University (NY)
  • Daniel Kofman, omnipilot, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (IL)
  • Ryan Lupberger, Cleancult, Babson College (MA)
  • Jake Parry, Piero, Brigham Young University (UT)
  • Bharat Pulgam, mXers Audio, University of Minnesota (MN)
  • Conrad Ruiz, Fibrina Cosmetics, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (MA)
  • Meghan Sharkus, ExpressionMed, University of St. Thomas (MN)
  • Karisma Sheth, Hangio, Austin College (TX)
  • Mikayla Sullivan, KinoSol SBC, Iowa State University (IA)


The 18th semifinalist is Tyler DeVos, Deadeye BBQ, Iowa State University (IA). Tyler is the winner of the 34th Annual Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) Global Pitch Competition.

In addition to the pitches, the semifinalists will showcase their business ideas in an expo-style format.

“Capital One is proud to continue its support of Future Founders as Presenting Sponsor of U.Pitch,” said Bailey. “We commend the entrepreneurs participating in this competition for making an important step forward in their careers. And our support of entrepreneurs extends beyond U.Pitch. We are here to help them launch and grow their businesses, and do what we can to help them succeed.”

U.Pitch is one of the opportunities Future Founders offers to support aspiring and existing collegiate entrepreneurs. This work is generously supported by Motorola Solutions Foundation (founding sponsor), Blackstone Charitable Foundation, Capital One, The Coleman Foundation, The John E. & Jeanne T. Hughes Foundation, Keywell Foundation, Accenture, ChicagoNEXT, EY, Jack and Goldie Wolfe Miller Fund, and World Business Chicago.

Join us on November 16 for this special event. Register at: https://futurefoundersupitch2017.eventbrite.com.