SMU’s 2024 Startup Launch Competition To Feature 10 Pitching Finalists Friday

From artisan cinnamon rolls to a beauty brand inspired by motherhood to a marketplace that fosters connections within gym communities, 10 startups rose to the top of the 2024 SMU Business Accelerator Program. On Friday, they'll roll up their sleeves and pitch.

This Friday, April 19, the Cox Graduate Entrepreneurship Club will be hosting the 18th annual SMU Startup Launch Competition from 8 a.m. to noon. Ten finalists from the 2024 SMU Business Accelerator Program will be pitching their businesses before a stellar lineup of judges. At stake: over $100,000 in awards, a combination of non-dilutive cash prizes, and in-kind donations. 

SMU says its “next-gen entrepreneurs” will each deliver a 10-minute pitch followed by a 5-minute Q&A from the judges. Those questions will be fired by judges Matthew Domo, CEO of FifthVantage; Drew Donahoe, CDO of Sirge; Valecia Harris, CEO of the Black Book Agency, who helped develop the Business Accelerator Program; business and technology senrior executive Tessa Hoskin; Tanya Regan, president of Wildcat Management; George Peinado, president of GAP Investments; and Megha Tolia, president and COO of Shondaland.

The competition is part of a broader effort by SMU to support entrepreneurial initiatives among its students, in a campus located amid a bustling North Texas startup ecosystem.

The event’s host, the Cox Graduate Entrepreneurship Club, is a student-led organization dedicated to promoting innovation and entrepreneurship at SMU. The club provides resources, mentorship, and offers support from both the SMU entrepreneurship community and Dallas-area startups.

Here are the finalists who’ll be pitching Friday, with their startup descriptions:

Ceylon – James Jimenez
“At Ceylon, we create preservative-free artisan cinnamon rolls, delivered directly by our dedicated bakers.” The startup’s tagline: Give in to Cin.

Christian Learning – Jonathan Fyne
An educational platform for students enrolled in religious education. Christian Learning is an AI-based education platform that helps students learn scripture through lessons, quizzes, and flashcards.

EduMatch Solutions – Martha Karmali
Bridging the gap between student debt and employee benefits, EduMatch partners with businesses to address the stressors of student debt within the workforce, with a goal of drastically reducing attrition. 

Glazed & Glossed – Adrienne Aaron
An emerging beauty brand featured in Vogue, Marie Claire, and Glamour, Glazed & Glossed makes clean, simple skincare essentials “to help you glow again.” The brand says it delivers “Beauty Inspired By Motherhood.”

Gradient – Christian Kim
Gradient is a business-to-peer marketplace designed to foster connections within gym communities.

InfoSavvy AI – Yaw Boateng
InfoSavvy simplifies access to university resources through customized and comprehensive Generative Al chatbots. A key goal is helping
university students overcome information overload.

Keya Solutions – Kiswood Diogene
Keya specializes in managing contract data and leveraging AI to transform this data into actionable insights, promising “precision in every decision.”

LectureLogger – Jude Lugo
A student success tool that empowers universities to better support their students, LectureLogger is in use by more than 2,100 SMU students today.

Omni – Theresa Shigemura, Savannah Ekrut, Tania Kadar, Sphoorti Veluvolu
An AI-powered app geared towards beauty product lovers, to help them find shades that better suit their skin tone through color-matching technology and established beauty brand partnerships.

Trio – Caitly Reynoso & Chris Cahill
Trio simplifies school projects for richer collaboration and real-world readiness. Its intuitive command center transforms group project chaos by centralizing functions like communication and delegation with AI. 

The pitch competition will be held at SMU’s Collins Executive Center in Crum Auditorium. You can see the competition schedule here and reserve your free admission to watch the competition by going here.

Third Annual Startup Launch Awards Gala to follow on Friday evening

Friday’s competition will be followed later that evening by the SMU Cox Graduate Entrepreneurship Club’s Third Annual Startup Launch Awards Gala. The gala will celebrate the achievements of top finalists from the Business Accelerator Program and award the SMU Start-Up Launch Competition winners, including the awarding of over $50,000 in non-dilutive funds.

To be held Friday April 19 from 6 to 9 p.m. at SMU’s Martha Proctor Grand Ballroom, the gala will feature a panel discussion moderated by Rogers Healy, CEO of Morrison Seger Ventures.

Sales have already ended for the formal-attire gala, per EventBrite.

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