An app that aims to make life easier for people living with neurodegenerative diseases and their caregivers won the lion’s share of the prize money at stake in this year’s Wolverine Venture Battle at Grove City College.
Seven teams of student entrepreneurs made the final round of the annual business venture competition hosted by the College’s Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation (E+I). They competed for a piece of a $27,050 cash prize package controlled by a panel of 14 judges who heard the teams make the case for their ventures and decided how much to award the students. This year’s prize package included cash prizes for both the Redemptive Impact Award and the Fan Favorite award.
Embark Health, founded by Lizzy Higgins '21 and Elizabeth Finnegan '21, garnered the largest investment and won the title of “Champion” in the competition. Judges awarded them $12,115 for their idea for an app they are developing to empower and equip patients – and their caregivers – with educational resources and disease management tools and support. his team will also receive in-kind services of Accounting/Financial and Legal Consultation, as well as free web hosting.
Other teams receiving cash prizes are:
- Resense: ($5,240) A customized box of products designed specifically to bring comfort and ease of transition to patients going through the early stages of Alzheimer's and dementia. Founded by Lydia Young '22, Luke Gilligan '24, and Ethan David '24.
- sidekickk: ($3,070) A podcast management platform that streamlines workflow and helps podcasters meet their goals. Founded by Cameron Suorsa '21 and Eric Dudgeon '21.
- Decipher: ($1,600) An online platform combatting the misconstrued perception of dyslexia and late diagnosis. Founded by Sarah Smith '22 and Lillian Jeynes '22.
- BlockShare: ($1,350) A community-based mobile platform that facilitates the renting of assets between neighbors. Founded by Fisher Koons '22 and Ethan Raynaud '22.
- G.I. Fido: ($1,025) a venture dedicated to creating fashionable, patriotic dog accessories benefitting the Veteran community. Founded by Olivia Whiteman '23 and her sister Sophia Whiteman, a home-schooled high school senior from Butler, Pa. who will join the freshman class of Grove City College in the fall.
- Habitat: ($450) a company that provides habit-building cleaning tools for kids and their elementary school/special ed teachers. Founded by Aby Griffith '21, Patty Jo Nickoloff '21, and Juliana Smith '22.
Viewers of the virtual competition broadcast had the ability to vote online for the Fan Favorite Award. This year, that award amount was doubled because there was a tie for the top spot and both Resense and Habitat received an additional $1,000 prize. In addition, G.I. Fido was selected by the judges to win the Redemptive Impact Award ($200).
Each of the seven teams that advanced to the finals made it through a rigorous evaluation by 46 independent reviewers, who scored the teams’ pitches based on criteria such as their solution to a real problem, their forecasted costs and revenue, and their competitive advantage.
For many finalists, the competition often marks the culmination of their journey through an entrepreneurial ecosystem created and managed by E+I. The prize money and in-kind services may help them fuel their commercial or social venture after graduation.
Judges were John Baun ’68, Todd Brice ’84, Mark Brody ’83, Hannah (Vaccaro) Collier ’18, Pete Durfee ’80, R.J. Fryan ’08, Dr. Deanna (Layman) Kiska ’87, Jeff Moxie ’80, Elisabeth O’Brien ’16, Mark Pentz ’81, Michael Pentz ’06, Bill Smith ’69, Tom Streiff, and Brian Young ’92.
Wolverine Venture Battle sponsors include: Davevic Benefit Consultants; Wesley Family Services; S&T Bank; Laura (Koller ’11) and R.J. Fryan ’08; The Pentz Family: Mark ‘81, Cheri ‘79, Michael ’06 and Yvonne ’06; June (Hart ‘83) and Mark Brody ’83; The Streiff Family: Robert ’15, Joan ’81 and Tom; Skip Hauser ’68; The Habbershon Family: Tim ’81, Grant ’06, Meredith ’07, Jonathan ’09 and Natalie ’11; Elizabeth (Smith ’81) and Peter Hanley; Dan Creston ’81; John & Betsy Baun Charitable Foundation (Pittsburgh Foundation); Susan (Peshek ’81) and Peter Durfee ’80; Kitty (Henneman ’92) and Brian Young ’92; Bill Smith ’69; The Kiska Family: Stan ’85, Deanna ’87, Evan ’20 and Lauren; Sisterson & Co. CPAs; Pittsburgh Web Design; and Cedric E. Lewis, JD/MBA, guest lecturer in Entrepreneurship.
For more about The Center for E+I and to watch the recorded broadcast, visit gccentrepreneurship.com.