Five teams of undergraduate students were selected to advance to the final round of Boston College Venture Competition (BCVC) this Thursday. Ten teams participated in the semi-final competition following the submission of their business plans to the club. The five advancing teams will compete for the opportunity to win the $20,000 first place cash prize. This year’s competition featured a record 37 team applicants for the competition. At least half of each team must be comprised of BC undergraduate students.
The teams Helpers, Postcard, 1950 Collective, Noggin, and CoReHUB advanced to the final competition which will take place on Monday, April 13 in the Fulton Honors Library.
Each team presented a two-minute pitch of its business plan, followed by a four-minute Q&A session with four judges from Boston-area venture capitalist firms. BC alumni have recently been gaining traction in the startup market, especially in Boston. Two previous competition winners are now members of Techstars, a startup accelerator that focuses on business mentorship, with the overall goal of improving the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the city. Techstars is extremely selective and only accepts around one percent of startups each fall that apply to the program.
The first team to present was Mago—Chris Hermida, CSOM ’15, and Charae Tongg, A&S ’15—which featured an online music marketplace without sellers’ fees. Mago believes that these seller fees used by services such as iTunes or Google Play drive prices up, resulting in consumers moving to streaming services such as Spotify. Mago would utilize a Bitcoin-based payment system, because digital currency has almost no transaction fees associated with it, allowing artists to keep almost all of their revenue. Mago will charge for hosting at a flat rate, not for each transaction.
Next up was Realyze—Dan Sipple, A&S ’15, and Adam Boyajian, University of Connecticut ’13—which presented a landlord analytic service that tracks rent and apartment data utilizing a data algorithm. Realyze will sell these reports to investment property owners on a subscription-based service. The company will gather public data and create a report based on what the landlord desires and use variables as well as similar properties to determine the optimal rent.
Helpers—Xiaojie Li, A&S ’17, Sunny Luo, A&S ’17, Jianing Wu, A&S ’17, and Andrew Ferdowsian, A&S ’16—is an on-demand tutoring service that hopes to address the idea of online tutoring being not as effective as face-to-face interaction. The Helpers’ platform seeks to connect students and tutors together using an algorithm, which takes in factors such as time, cost, rating, and location to find the best tutor match for the student. Helpers hopes to launch its open beta in late April with a focus on the college market in Boston and California.
Bus Buddy—Sean Roche, CSOM ’17, and Daniel Vaz, CSOM ’17—is a school bus management platform with GPS and student tracking to ensure that students get on the bus for their commutes to and from school. This software is mounted on the bus GPS, and the Bus Buddy companion app is on a parent’s phone to track the child’s bus.
Perch—Thomas Shea, CSOM ’16, Mujtaba Syed, CSOM ’16, and Andre Gomes, A&S ’18—is a mobile app that seeks to make it easier for consumers to purchase products that they see from TV advertisements. The system allows a user to select the channel you are watching and displays the last 10 commercials that have appeared. The app takes the product info from the commercial and allows you to buy the product advertised with a one-click buy feature via Amazon API.
Postcard—John Doherty A&S ’17, Theodore Chapman, CSOM ’17, and Jack Uesugi, CSOM ’17—is the first ever merit-based exposure platform for Instagram. Users select a photo that they “Instagrammed” and can immediately share it with ten users on Postcard. Those users can then vote on the photo by “liking” it or passing it. If the photo is “liked” then the photo is then passed on to three additional users, giving the best content and the best content creators the most exposure. Postcard seeks to engage users by making the platform highly addictive.
1950 Collective—Angela Jin, CSOM ’17, and Nishiki Maredia, University of Texas ’18—is a One Direction fan clothing brand that was created following the poor selection of merchandise through the band’s website. Currently, 1950 collective sells T-shirts and phone cases, featuring images of the band. The website has already achieved 60,000 hits and earned $17,500 in revenue since its launch nine weeks ago. In addition, the clothing line donates 10 percent of its profits each month to a different women empowerment organization.
TightSpot—David Kim, CSOM ’17, Gray Gotcher, A&S ’17, and Emily Zucca, CSOM ’16—is a peer-to-peer microloan application that connects lenders and borrowers for small amounts of money. The borrowers select how much money they desire, the interest rate, and the repayment period. Lenders can then select who they want to lend to at their own discretion. These loans are collateralized with social capital and should a borrower fail to pay, the website will display their information on TightSpot’s website, informing the public of their default.
Noggin—Muhan Zhang, CSOM ’15, Francisco Mantica, A&S ’15, and Nicholas Shamlian, CSOM ’16—uses gyroscope technology with Google Glass to translate head motion into text. Noggin will empower disabled individuals by allowing them to communicate spontaneously.
CoReHUB—Matt Burke, A&S ’15, Chris Castro, A&S ’15, Emaad Ali, BC High ’15, Gaetan Daphnis, CSOM ’15, and Doug Bent, A&S ’15—is an online commercial real estate marketplace, seeking to fix the problem of unreliable real estate market information. CoReHUB works with brokers to find properties with accurate market information. The marketplace connects buyers and sellers together, with sellers paying a $10 a month lister fee.
Judges Graham Brooks, Paul Flanagan, Harris Komishane, and Jack Garraghan, BC ’84, gave parting words of advice and praise following the team pitches.
“It’s amazing that you guys are all up here pitching in front of VCs,” Flanagan said. “It’s awesome that you’re getting this experience so early.”
Featured Image by Daniella Fasciano / Heights Editor