Future Founders Recognizes Top College Entrepreneurs at 4th Annual National U.Pitch Competition

Future Founders, a non-profit organization that believes every youth can become an entrepreneur, hosted their 4th Annual U.Pitch College Elevator Pitch Competition & Showcase on November 16 at 1871 in Chicago. During the event, 18 collegiate entrepreneurs from 17 universities in 10 states participated in a high-energy elevator pitch competition for national honors and a $10,000 prize pool.

Martin Dimitrov from the University of Illinois at Chicago won first place ($5,000) for his innovative company SnapClips, a unique weight collar that uses a patented technology that makes securing and swapping weights quick and easy.

Jake Parry from Brigham Young University in Utah won second place ($2,500) for his company Piero, which uses a cutting-edge proximity, wireless technology to open doors hands-free and make the world more accessible for people with physical disabilities.

Mikayla Sullivan from Iowa State University won third place ($1,250) for her company KinoSol, a Specific Benefit Corporation that reduces food waste on a global scale via solar-powered food dehydrators.

Bharat Pulgam from the University of Minnesota won fourth place ($500) for his company mXers Audio, which has created unique modular earbuds using a five-piece patented platform that lets listeners swap different audio modules to create the perfect listening experience.

Ryan Hesslau from Trinity Christian College in Illinois won the People’s Choice Award ($750) for his company Crossroad Solutions (Rebrand: Above the Waves), which improves the way that available in-school support communicates with students experiencing emotional distress.

Karisma Sheth from Austin College in Texas won a Future Founders Venture Award ($250) for her company Hangio, which offers wardrobe solutions to optimize the everyday closet experience.

TJ Dishaw from Baker College in Michigan won a Future Founders Venture Award ($250) for his company GOVRED, which builds turnkey virtual reality training simulators for law enforcement officers and first responders.

“U.Pitch is a platform for some of the nation’s top collegiate entrepreneurs to take their business ideas to the next level,” said Scott Issen, President & CEO, Future Founders. “The competition allowed us to surface rockstar entrepreneurial talent and to connect student entrepreneurs from different universities to one another and to the entrepreneurial community at large.”

“Capital One, the proud Presenting Sponsor of U.Pitch, congratulates the winners of the competition and applauds each of the collegiate entrepreneurs who showcased their innovative ideas and start-ups,” said Laura Bailey, Senior Vice President, Community Finance at Capital One. “An enthusiastic supporter of Future Founders’ programs, Capital One is itself an entrepreneurial success story, and our five-year, $150 million Future Edge initiative is helping more American workers and entrepreneurs get the skills, tools and resources they need to succeed in the 21st Century. We’re pleased to shine a light on the passion, creativity, and forward-thinking mindset of young entrepreneurs who are determined to create solutions and introduce ideas that benefit society.”

Judges for the final round included 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. and 2016 U.Pitch Winner; and Alisha Slye, Global Director, Blackstone LaunchPad. View the complete list of judges and semi-finalists here.