In what might be described as March Madness for entrepreneurs, a team of MSU students won over seven teams from some of the nation’s top universities to place first in the 2013 Student Startup Madness tournament. The competition featured collegiate teams pitching their business ideas to a panel of successful entrepreneurs and investors during the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas.
See student app in action
The Spartan entrepreneurs were among the Entrepreneurial Eight student-run digital media startup finalists who presented to a judging panel of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and investors on March 9 at SXSW Interactive, an annual event featuring the brightest minds in emerging technology.
Representing MSU were seniors Josh Leider, marketing major; Benny Ebert-Zavos, hospitality business major; and computer science majors Phil Getzen and Adam Proschek. Computer science senior Ryan Tempas is assisting in the development process. The team developed an iPhone app called TempoRun, which allows runners to set their pace to songs with steady beats, making their runs more enjoyable and consistent. The students will now use $5,000 from Google Cloud Platform to bring their app to the market.
“This experience has been a little mind-blowing,” says Leider, who came up with the idea for TempoRun. “We’re excited to show others our app that we created from nothing and to represent Michigan State.”
Students talk about their venture
The student startup competition began in November with a field of 64 teams from around the nation, including five from MSU. The field was narrowed in December to 32, and in January MSU’s TempoRun team was selected to go on to the Entrepreneurial Eight.
The team from MSU is no stranger to pitching to investors. In December, the members won first place and $5,000 in the Eli Broad Business Pitch Competition, winning over 27 other teams from MSU. They went on to work with Spartan Innovations, an L3C, or low-profit limited liability company, focused on helping turn MSU innovations into successful Michigan businesses.
“Spartan Innovations got the team into the Hatch space for student startups and provided $5,000 in funding from the Gerstacker Entrepreneurial Grant,” says Paul Jaques, director of student and community engagement at Spartan Innovations, who had a hand in organizing Student Startup Madness. “It’s been really exciting to see them grow their business. They’re great pitchers, and now they had the chance to go to South by Southwest where companies like Twitter and Mashable got their start.”
Leider and his team plan to launch TempoRun on iTunes in early April. To promote the app, the team, with support from the Associated Students of MSU, will hold a 5K charity run on campus on April 21. Participants will pay $20, and all proceeds will go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Entrepreneurial Eight Finalists
Michigan State University
University of Texas–Austin
University of Illinois–Chicago
St. Louis University
University of California–Berkeley
Rensselaer Polytechnic University
The top three teams each will get $5,000 of credits for Google Cloud Platform, a tool that supports web applications.
Here are more ways MSU is helping grow its community of entrepreneurs:
Spartan Innovations provides university-wide entrepreneurship education and resources, including funding, CEO mentors-in-residence, and access to external investors.
The Gerstacker and Forest Akers Entrepreneurial grants provide opportunities for students to compete for funding for research concepts with entrepreneurial potential.
The Hatch is a student business incubator operated by MSU, the City of East Lansing, and the Lansing Economic Area Partnership.
The Innovation Center—composed of MSU Technologies, Spartan Innovations, and Business-CONNECT—integrates innovation, technology transfer, support for startups, and partnerships with businesses and communities.
The MSU Entrepreneurship Network connects venture and social entrepreneurs—particularly students—with education, resources, mentors, advocates, and funding.
The Institute for Entrepreneurship in the Broad College of Business advances and promotes entrepreneurship at MSU and throughout Michigan through research, education, and outreach.
Learn more about MSU entrepreneurship programs and resources.