Monday, April 07, 2014



This past weekend, over 60 talented students from the University of Illinois, University of Chicago, Northwestern, and IIT participated in Campus 1871, where they built teams to develop and pitch real startup companies from scratch at 1871, Chicago’s premier technology co-working space. In addition to seeing some really great ideas come to life, it was refreshing to see students from many universities working together around a shared vision.
The University of Illinois was strongly represented. In total, 25 students from the Chicago and Urbana campuses were invited to join, 18 of whom participated. Jed Taylor (@jedtaylor) and his team from the Technology Entrepreneurship Center (@TECenter) in Urbana helped organize the event. Additionally, Dr. Darko Marinov, a Computer Science professor on the Urbana campus, attended and helped mentor the student teams. Marty Malone(@martymal1), B.S. Broadcast Journalism (’13) was also on-hand to help the students and 1871 staff with coordinating the event. Lastly, Hanna Cannell and Aaron Weiss from Urbana’s College of Media were present all weekend to help capture video footage of the weekend’s programming on behalf of 1871. Finally, I had the distinct privilege of serving as one of the judges, which was a very difficult job considering what an awesome job these student teams did.
There were nine companies in all, and UI had representation on all three teams that placed (see below for the winning companies and the UI students that were on those teams). The 1st-place winners received a year-long membership to 1871, and the 2nd- and 3rd-place winners received summer memberships.
Alpacu (1st Place) – A team that has collectively moved 51 times, pitches a web service that will take the “sucks” out of “moving sucks.” This team was extremely impressive and was able to prove feasibility, market validation (they talked to 9 different movers), and an impressive website. Alpacu (“Al - pack - you”) is one platform for sourcing all moving companies and pricing in Chicago.
·         Braven Leung
FizzApp (2nd Place) – FizzApp helps take the bottlenecks out of bar operations (and no, they aren’t talking about the beers). Bars struggle to keep up with peak demand, and consumers are frustrated with unreasonable wait times at popular venues. FizzApp streamlines both the bartender and the consumer’s experience by optimizing drink prep, and taking care of the payment processing, thus, reducing wait times and increasing output.
·         Kirthi Banothu
·         Neville Jos
·         Matt Lodes
YOUnify (3rd Place) – Helping you discover the connections you never knew you had, YOUnify scours your social and professional networks to develop a map of your professional connections. An aggregate picture of your strengths and weaknesses will help you get the referrals you need so you can land your dream job. This idea was originally pitched by former 1871 intern Connor Regan.
·         Jay Bensal
·         Mayank Jain
·         Michal Krupa
·         Brendan Ryan
Check out the Campus 1871 website for more information and a full recap of this weekend’s events. Big thanks to 1871 CEO Howard Tullman (@tullman) and staff members Mike Hufstetler (@HuffStetLer) and Jasmine Slivka (@JasmineSlivka) on curating a great program! And congrats again to all the students who participated!

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