All SSM teams are digital media startups, and all hope to follow in the footsteps of famous college student founders of companies like Facebook, Google, Dell, Microsoft, Reddit, WordPress and SnapChat. The teams in this year’s SSM 64 come from 36 different colleges and universities, with business concepts creating new social media apps, innovative new products and services, disruptive new business models, and brand new digital capabilities.
“We believe these 64 teams are the best college digital media startups in the country,” according to Sean Branagan, creator of Student Startup Madness and director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship Center at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. “Some of these students want to be the next Zuck or Snapchat, yet they come from colleges far and wide, not just the usual universities in major tech hubs.”
“During the application period,” he continued, “we heard from college startups who are creating 3D printed pizzas, developing new kinds of wearables, and trying to disrupt every industry imaginable. Some are even aiming to disrupt the major high-tech companies who started as college startups years ago… Ah, this is the circle of digital media life!”
With this announcement of the starting field, the SSM competition really begins, and all teams have a shot at top honors and the SSM National Championship. The first two rounds of the tournament will be held online, and the competition culminates with the finals on-stage at South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive in Austin, Texas, on March 13, when the Entrepreneurial Eight will pitch to a panel of startup judges.
This year’s competition will be emcee’d by Jesse Draper, a powerful, young voice in the national startup scene and an advocate for women founders. She will be joined by an elite panel of judges, which will be announced soon.
Student Startup Madness is the only nationwide collegiate tournament focused on digital media startups. It affords college student startups the opportunity to compete against fellow student entrepreneurs, grab the attention of potential investors and supporters, and build an elite professional network. At the SSM finals at SXSW, eight elite college student startups will pitch their businesses to well-known investors and entrepreneurs who can help them transform their ideas into success.
The SSM tournament is promoted by anchor universities in regions across the country and supported by Walmart Technology and The Blackstone Charitable Foundation. SSM also cross-promotes the tournament with Blackstone LaunchPad, a global campus based entrepreneurship program, with Women 2.0, the leading media brand for the next generation of technology leaders, and with Student Veterans of America, a coalition of student-veteran groups on more than 1,300 college campuses across the globe. All these organizations believe in the power of American entrepreneurship and innovation on our college campuses.
The 2016-17 SSM Starting Field of 64: (in alphabetical order)
- 101 from Carnegie Mellon University
- Acculis from New York University
- Ally from University of Texas at Dallas
- Ametier from Clarkson University
- Aquaint from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
- Belle Applications from Cornell University
- Blitzer from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
- Chang’s Chat from Arizona State University
- Channels from Washington University in St. Louis
- COCO (College Connection) from Syracuse University
- CollegeU from University of Southern California
- Comake from Cornell University
- Converse VR from University of Texas at Dallas
- Drops from University of Southern California
- Dycap Media Solutions from University of Florida
- FeverFit from University of Texas at Austin
- Find Your Ditto from University of Michigan
- Food Design HQ from Michigan State University
- GameBoyz from Michigan State University
- Geopipe from Brown University
- HipStake from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
- Horizon from Michigan State University
- Ice Breaker App from Michigan State University
- ID Books from University of Texas at Austin
- Imajion from Syracuse University
- Jifflo from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Junto from Vanderbilt University
- Kwest from University of Texas at Dallas
- LearnMe from Purdue University Northwest
- Lucky Day Entertainment from University of Southern California
- MemoryFox from State University of New York at Buffalo
- Modern Technology Advancements from University of Michigan
- Omnipointment from Illinois Institute of Technology and University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- Orai from Drexel University
- Parihug from Case Western Reserve University
- Parsegon from Columbia University
- Paxton Medical from Michigan State University
- Phlex from University of Florida
- Players Revolution Sports from University of North Texas
- Prndl from Michigan State University
- PubliPost from University of Southern California
- Queue from University of Chicago
- Reflexion Interactive Technologies from Case Western Reserve University
- Reltup from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Retail Jump (ineed) from Michigan State University
- Ryze from Texas A&M University
- Savofair from Syracuse University
- SearchParty from Bucknell University
- Shuttl from Michigan State University
- Somatic Signals from University of Rochester
- Spolitic from Syracuse University
- Swifte from University of Georgia
- Talk With Sam from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- The Releaf Group from Princeton University
- Theatre Galleria from New York University
- TownWave from Texas Tech University, Senior Media Strategies Student
- TravelSee from Cornell University
- UNIBEES from University of Texas at Dallas
- WalkAround VR from Syracuse University
- Weather General from Texas A&M University
- WES Power from Case Western Reserve University
- WiNot App from Washington University in St. Louis
- Zealery from Northeastern University
- ZOI Networks from Florida State University
SSM Tournament Format
Each round of the nationwide tournament will build momentum, awareness and social media buzz, drawing attention to colleges and universities as sources for innovation, entrepreneurship and talent while showcasing university entrepreneurship and encouraging college students to start businesses.
More than 200 student startups applied online between August and early December. The first round of competition will be held online among the 64 startup teams, with judging conducted via Gust.com, a platform used by angel investors around the world.
From the starting field, 32 semi-finalists will be chosen and advance to the next round. By late January, the Entrepreneurial Eight finalists will be selected and invited to pitch to a well-known panel of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and investors at the Student Startup Madness national finals in Austin, Texas, on Monday, March 13, 2017. The SSM Finals and Championship event will be held at SXSW’s Startup Village main venue in the downtown Austin Hilton hotel conference center.
About Student Startup Madness
The Student Startup Madness concept was developed by Sean Branagan, director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, in conjunction with SXSW. Student Startup Madness believes in American entrepreneurship and on-campus startups—and wants to help young student entrepreneurs succeed and become a part of the SXSW experience.
The 2016-17 SSM tournament has been promoted and supported by 13 anchor universities in eight regions across the country: Arizona State University (Southwest), Cornell University (Northeast), Bucknell University (Mid-Atlantic), Georgia State University (Southeast), Michigan State University (Great Lakes), St. Louis University (Midwest), Seton Hall University (Northeast), University of Florida (Southeast), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Midwest), University of Maryland (Mid-Atlantic), University of Southern California (West), University of Washington at Tacoma (Northwest) and Xavier University (Great Lakes).
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. Today it is a national tournament 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.