As the economy recovers from the pandemic, entrepreneurs will play a key role. One of the nation’s largest undergraduate business pitch competitions, the Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge has a strong track record of supporting entrepreneurs.
Since the University of St. Thomas-hosted competition started in 2017, the Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge has awarded more than $1 million in prize money. Thirty-five out of the 75 teams that have competed since the Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge started still exist as companies, a strong success rate. (According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of small businesses fail in their first year.)
Judges for the Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge selected Rutgers University students Alyssa Krisinski, Clairisse Whang, Harrison Zhang and Juliet Petillo as this year’s winners. They secured $50,000 in funding from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation to support their business, Nutrivide.
The winning company, Nutrivide, aims to redefine nutrient and drug delivery for infants with the Nutrifier, a pacifier that can passively distribute liquid micronutrients or medication during use.
Whang expressed her gratitude for the competition and what it means to her team and to the other teams competing. “I’m so excited for all the things we are going to do together. Every drop of your support is really helping us get products out faster and to do the things that we want to do to really shift the world,” she said.
The Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge drew more than 100 entries representing 55 colleges and universities across the country. The top 25 finalists competed in the finals virtually April 22–24 during e-Fest, where $216,000 was awarded. Students also made connections during the event with fellow entrepreneurs and received counsel from judges applicable to building their company.
In addition to taking first place, Nutrivide won the $10,000 Global Impact Award. Other winners included:
- Second place, $30,000 – MassApply, Virginia Tech
- Third place, $20,000 – Hydrova, Georgetown and MIT
- Fourth place, $15,000 – Telo, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
- Fifth place, $10,000 – Renter Chat, Northeastern University
- Social Impact Award, $10,000 – Cress Health, Hofstra University and Brown University
- $70,000 was also awarded in various increments for second- and third-place finalist teams as well as pitch slam and innovation challenges.
“Entrepreneurs will be more important than ever as we build back our economy,” said Laura Dunham, associate dean of Schulze School of Entrepreneurship. “It will be the work of entrepreneurs and innovators to reimagine a society and economy that works for all its citizens, that creates opportunity for all, that fosters equity, fairness and justice. It will be the work of entrepreneurs to create the businesses and generate the jobs that will restore and revitalize our economy.”
Stefanie Lenway, dean of the Opus College of Business, thanked Dick Schulze for making this celebration of entrepreneurship for undergraduates possible.
“The Schulze School of Entrepreneurship and e-Fest are making a distinct difference,” Lenway said. “With 11 of the top 25 finalist teams submitted by female entrepreneurs, barriers are breaking down. Events like e-Fest are important because they are providing nontraditional entrepreneurs the opportunity to get a tremendous amount of advice, to network and to secure the funds that they need to take their ventures to the next level.”