Bigger than the Final Four: College student startup national tournament names ‘Entrepreneurial Eight’ finalists

January 21, 2014

Student startups will pitch at South By Southwest in March—with prizes and school bragging rights on the line

The Entrepreneurial Eight teams have been chosen for the finals of the Student Startup Madness (SSM) tournament, an official partner program of South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive. One team from each of six SSM regions—Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Great Lakes, Midwest and Southwest—along with two at-large teams, make up the eight finalists. These elite college student startups will be in Austin, Texas, on March 10 to pitch before a judging panel of successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and investors who can help them transform their ideas into business success.

What started in November with a field of 64 college student startup teams was narrowed in December to 32 semi-finalists from 22 colleges and universities across the United States. The eight finalists come from nine universities in eight different states across the country.

Student Startup Madness is a fun and exciting nationwide tournament providing college student startups the opportunity to “live the entrepreneurial dream,” compete against fellow student entrepreneurs, grab the attention of potential investors and leaders in the startup community, and build an elite professional network.

The 2013-14 SSM Entrepreneurial Eight Finalists: (in alphabetical order)

  • Carbon Cash from Michigan State University
  • DepthChartz from the University of Memphis
  • Find My Song from the University of Southern California
  • Million Dollar Scholar from Morehouse College
  • from Seton Hall University
  • PlatypusTV fromthe Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and Syracuse University
  • SemanticMD from Carnegie Mellon University
  • StylePuzzle from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

OFFICIAL ALTERNATE (in the event that one of the Entrepreneurial Eight cannot present)

  • uCal from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“It’s going to be a tough competition on-stage in Austin. This group of finalists is amazing,” says Sean Branagan, creator of the SSM program. “These teams are in a wide array of industries and markets, with different technologies, and diverse and innovative business models. Viewing all the SSM applications this year really makes me hopeful and excited about the future.” 

The first round of the Student Startup Madness competition was held online from August until November. Judging took place via, a platform used by angel investors around the world. The 32 semi-finalists advanced to the virtual regional round, primarily based on their home college location, where they were judged against each other online. From each of the six SSM regions, two finalists emerged—along with two at-large teams—to form the “Entrepreneurial Eight.” These finalists are now invited to pitch to a celebrity panel of well-known entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and investors at the Student Startup Madness national finals in Austin, Texas, on March 10 at the SXSW Startup Village main venue at the downtown Austin Hilton hotel conference center, salon A.

About the finalists

Carbon Cash: A behavioral energy efficiency app designed for college students that will track the electricity consumption of students and relay performance back to the students through Carbon Cash’s web portal and mobile app. Top performing students will receive points they can redeem for gift cards at local and national retailers. [Contact Patrick Schmitz,, or visit]

DepthChartz: An online service for high school and college athletes, with a framework that is highly search functional to assist student-athletes with exposure to both college and professional outlets, through highlight video submissions and validated statistics. The service also allows coaches to list and promote their camps and training services, creating the prospect for top talent-opportunity pairings. [Contact: Zach Harrison,, or visit]

Find My Song: An online collaborative platform for music, which combines networking, project management and copyright management in one central platform in order to help music makers create music more effectively from anywhere in the world. [Contact Vincent Fong,, or visit]

Million Dollar Scholar: An ed-tech social enterprise that seeks to revolutionize the way high school and college students learn how to win scholarships and avoid student debt through an e-learning platform. [Contact Derrius Quarles,, or visit] A cloud-based productivity tool and mobile application that allows you to capture, share, communicate and collaborate on bite-sized pieces of information and memories across all of your digital devices—bridging the gap between the traditional sticky note and the digital world. [Contact Taseen Peterson,, or visit]

PlatypusTV: A social web platform that time stamps conversations around television episodes, allowing viewers to share the experience of watching their favorite shows while viewing on their schedule. The platform provides fans with a sounding board and advertisers an opportunity for touch points through a longer show life. [Contact Nomi Foster,, or visit]

SemanticMD: Develops systems to refine radiological decision support, improve quality of care, and reduce overall medical costs. SemanticMD offers a content-based patient search engine that aids radiologists in identifying patients with similar conditions using state-of-the-art computer vision and machine learning techniques. [Contact Santosh Bhavani,, or visit]

StylePuzzle: A mobile app that will provide personalized daily outfit recommendations for users based on their own clothes. It offers users a convenient tool to discover their styles and make dressing decisions, as well as a better platform for social shopping. [Contact Liz Li,, or visit]


uCal: A web, desktop and mobile application company, uCal was founded based on the belief that an easier alternative to organization can exist and flourish in our world of constantly changing due dates and information. uCal is here to make life—Simply. Organized. [Contact Laura Marie Carroll,, or visit]

About Student Startup Madness

The Student Startup Madness concept was developed by Sean Branagan, director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the Newhouse School, in conjunction with SXSW. Syracuse University is the organizing institution for this year’s national tournament.

Student Startup Madness is supported by generous corporate sponsors Turner Broadcasting’s Media Camp (a Premier Sponsor), Evernote (a Premier Sponsor), Google Developers, TriNet, and the Newhouse School at Syracuse University—with help from other organizations that work with early-stage college-based ventures, including Dorm Room Fund, 3 Day Startup, Elite Daily and TheNextZuck.

The tournament has been promoted and supported by six anchor universities in six regions across the country: Syracuse University in the Northeast, Bucknell University in the Mid-Atlantic, Georgia State University in the Southeast, Michigan State University in the Great Lakes, Saint Louis University in the Midwest, and The University of Texas at Austin in the Southwest.

Student Startup Madness, along with its sponsors and host universities, believes in American entrepreneurship and on-campus startups—and wants to help young student entrepreneurs succeed and become a part of the SXSW experience.

Student Startup Madness debuted in 2012 at SXSW Interactive with a launch event and kick-off pitchfest, where five student startup teams representing eight colleges and universities pitched their ventures and won prizes. In 2013, SSM was selected as a SXSW Partner Program and invited into the main venue of SXSW Startup Village. For more on Student Startup Madness, visit the website (, see us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter: @StartupMad.