Syracuse University student startup OptechVR, co-founded by Whitman freshman Matt Shumer, has been selected as one of 32 college student startup teams from across the nation heading to the semi-final round in the 2018-19 Student Startup Madness (SSM) tournament, where it will compete for top honors and the SSM National Championship. The semi-finalist teams (SSM 32) come from 27 different colleges and universities across the country and have digital products and services in more than a dozen different industries.
OptechVR is developing the world’s first multiplayer, easy-to-use VR headset, incorporating cutting-edge technology, at an affordable price.
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, the Entrepreneurial Eight will pitch their business to well-known investors and entrepreneurs who can help them take their early-stage ventures toward success.
The SSM 32 feature college student ventures which aim to disrupt education, transform influencer marketing, develop podcasts on-the-fly, and create rec-leagues for esports gamers and new VR/AR worlds. New online and mobile services include breakfast delivery that has taken logistics to the next level, AI-powered cleaning on-demand, ridesharing for parents, and all kinds of services for shopping and socializing. Many use their college ventures to create social impact, such as anonymous tracking of on-campus sexual harassment, AI assistance for the visually impaired, and creating crowdsourced accountability in factories in developing countries to combat human rights abuses.
Technology-based ventures include blockchain for personal data, innovative speaker technology, natural language processing to monitor employee morale, sonar in cars, new kinds of augmented and virtual reality, miniaturized electronics, and artificial intelligence everywhere!
The 2018-19 SSM Semi-Finalists: (in alphabetical order)
- 360VR Technology from University of Delaware
- Audivity from University of Arizona
- Clean ‘Em from University of Texas at Austin
- Cut to the Case from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Darsana from University of Massachusetts Amherst
- Elixir from University of Washington
- Homecooked from Univ. of Chicago, Yale University, and Minneapolis College of Art and Design
- iSpyPens from University of Tampa
- Kadoo from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
- Kwest from University of Texas at Dallas
- Lingco Language Labs from Michigan State University
- Mission Control from Saint Louis University
- OptechVR from Syracuse University
- Perch from University of Michigan
- Parents in Motion from Cuyahoga Community College and Case Western Reserve University
- PLUR Tech from California State University, Chico
- Podium from Tufts University and McGill University
- PurPics from University of Virginia
- Red Clover Reader from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Regavi from Washington University in St. Louis and Pennsylvania State University
- Resonado from University of Notre Dame
- Riley from University of Virginia
- Runerra from University of Minnesota
- Sincere Sitter from Seton Hall University
- Skoop from Michigan State University
- Sound Cycle from Purdue University Northwest
- StudyTree from University of Pennsylvania
- Suna Breakfast from Cornell University
- Tableau Media from Syracuse University
- Thrive Systems from Brigham Young University
- Vize from Texas A&M University
- Worksense from Tufts University
About the SSM Tournament Format
Each round of the nationwide tournament builds 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.
Student startups from colleges across the nation applied online between August and early December. The first round of competition was held online among the 64 startup teams, with judging conducted via Gust.com, a platform used by angel investors around the world. Thirty-two semi-finalists were chosen to 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 11, 2019. The SSM Finals and Championship event will be held at one of SXSW’s main venues 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 2018-19 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).
SSM also cross-promotes the tournament with Women 2.0, the leading media brand for the next generation of technology leaders, and Student Veterans of America, a coalition of student-veteran groups on more than 1,300 college campuses across the globe. SSM also partners with companies such as DraperU Ventures (with its Draper University entrepreneurship programs), who helps offset the costs of running the tournament. These organizations believe in the power of American entrepreneurship and innovation on our college campuses.
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 and a perennial part of SXSW. For more information on Student Startup Madness, visit the website (https://studentstartupmadness.com), see us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter: @StartupMad.