Last Saturday, Rice University hosted the second annual Rice Entrepreneurship Summit, a day-long event that brought together 200 participants, including nearly 50 workshop speakers, panelists, judges, and mentors (including myself). Undergraduate, graduate, and MBA students from Rice and other Houston-area universities were placed on interdisciplinary teams for the day and challenged with brainstorming and developing a venture to be presented at the end in an elevator pitch competition. The Summit was intended to expose a wide variety of individuals to the idea of pursuing entrepreneurship, and no entrepreneurship or business experience was required.
Team meetings and workshops took place in common areas in Rice’s south residential colleges and in McNair Hall, with the competition finals occurring in McNair Hall’s Shell Auditorium. The five finalist teams were:
eye-R, a low-cost optical diagnostics tool for the developing world that attaches to smartphones;
MalariaShield, a genetically engineered mosquito inhibitor spray;
My Way, an online platform suggesting activities and trip itineraries based on stated interests and previous activities;
Spark Match, a matchmaking service using collected DNA, HLA, and MHCs in users’ saliva to predict attraction; and
StrokeBand, a tool for first responders to diagnose stroke and expedite treatment.
First prize ($3,000) went to Spark Match, with eye-R and StrokeBand taking second prize ($2,000) and third prize ($1,000), respectively. The Spark Match team included (pictured below, left to right) mentor Jacob Shiach, Scott Schubert, Francie Hessel, Meghana Appurao, Karen Ding, Duncan Wadsworth, and mentor Genevieve Simmons.
Upcoming Rice Launch events include:
an Entrepreneur’s Draft on January 17-18, 2014, which will bring together aspiring entrepreneurs interested in joining a project, individuals with business ideas looking to build a team, and mentors;
an Undergraduate Elevator Pitch Competition on January 22, 2014;
a Startup Career Fair on January 29, 2014, at which local startups with internship opportunities will pitch their ventures to students; and
on March 14, 2014, a business plan competition for undergraduate students called the Undergraduate Venture Challenge.
The Rice Launch team organizing the Summit included (pictured above, left to right) Mason Daumas, Rushi Patel, Hersh Agrawal, Isabel Scher, Allison Garza, Amber Wang, Sophie Xu, and Rohan Shah. Not pictured are Lauren Eggert, Andre Critsinelis, Sophie Hu, Chase Stewart, and David Defilippo.
Photos by Megh Gore.