The University of Virginia School of Engineering will host its second Pike Engineering Entrepreneurship Fellows Program showcase event at 5 p.m. Monday, April 22, in Newcomb Theater. A networking session with refreshments will be held at 4 p.m.
The six student entrepreneur teams who were named this year’s Pike Fellows will present their ventures to a panel of business leaders and investors who will select the winner of the $50,000 Pike Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. A second $10,000 peer’s choice prize will be awarded based on live audience voting.
The 2018-2019 Pike Fellows teams are:
2018-2019 Pike Fellows teams:
CHIEF, a designer of outdoor gear that emphasizes user experience as well as functionality
MetaCTF, providing cybersecurity training and competitions
MIST, a team of engineers and surgeons working on a treatment for scoliosis
Ocean.Loans, providing software as a service for private real estate lenders and investors
PurPics, a platform that connects brands with student organizations for a cause
UBALL, a new version of basketball meant for beaches and fields
Each team will have 10 minutes to present to the panel of judges followed by a 10-minute Q&A period. The judges are Pike Corporation chairman and CEO Eric Pike and vice president Will Pike (electrical engineering, 2016); Clay Dunnagan, managing partner at Anchor Capital; John Nisi (systems engineering, 1998), chief technology officer of data and artificial intelligence at the Microsoft Corporation; Mark Pinho (McIntire School of Commerce, 1999), managing partner at St. Victor Group LLC; and Tom Scully (College of Arts & Sciences, 1979), general partner at Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe.
The evening’s events will open with remarks from Pam Norris, executive dean of UVA Engineering and Eric Pike. Prior to the team presentations, judges Scully and Dunnagan will host a discussion, titled “The Journey from Emmet Dorm to the White House, Wall Street and Beyond,” on Scully’s career in politics, law and business, where he has built and invested in numerous healthcare companies. While the judges deliberate to decide the grand prize winner, the audience will cast votes for the peer’s choice award. W. Bernard Carlson, professor and chair of the Department of Engineering and Society, will close the event after the award winners are announced.
The highly selective Pike Fellows program supports student entrepreneurs who are working on early-stage ventures with potential for commercial success. The teams were named in the fall and each received $4,000 initial funding to help develop their projects. They have spent the spring semester preparing for the showcase, including taking a specially designed course and participating in networking, mentoring and learning activities to help them develop critical skills for launching their businesses.
Carlson noted that this year’s Pike Fellows are an exceptional group, representing some of UVA’s most promising student entrepreneurs. “I couldn’t be more proud of this year’s Pike Fellows for how quickly they have converted their ideas into products or services with real commercial potential,” Carlson said. “I look forward to the showcase when they will have the opportunity to present their work to both the judges and audience — with tens of thousands of dollars at stake. Between the anticipation of the judges’ decision and the crowd voting for the people’s choice award, the showcase should be an exciting event demonstrating the promise and talent of UVA’s student entrepreneurs.”
That promise is being recognized beyond the University. Recent team news includes MIST’s selection to the ACC InVenture Prize and Texas Christian University Values and Ventures Competition, and a second-place win at the St. Louis University Pitch and Catch Competition; the naming of MIST and PurPics as finalists for the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council’s Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award; and MetaCTF, MIST and PurPics’s selection as finalists for the Tom Tom Founders Festival American Evolution Innovators Cup. Members of the MetaCTF team also will defend their title at the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition later this month.
Eric and Will Pike established the fellowship in 2017 through a $250,000 gift to the University. They wanted to create a unique program to provide not just funding, but the education, networking, mentorship and community environment that students need to launch their products or services. Their sponsorship builds on the strong tech entrepreneurship community in UVA Engineering, which has cultivated successes such as last year’s Pike winner, Ashwin Karthikeyan (aerospace engineering, 2018) founder and CEO of InMEDBio.
Eric Pike, along with his fellow judges, are looking forward to an intense competition this year. “We have an outstanding group of teams that have all reached significant milestones in developing their ventures into functioning companies. We are fortunate to have Tom Scully and all of our founding judges joining us again this year. The judges and I are committed to working with these teams beyond the program as they continue to scale their businesses and take them out into the marketplace,” Pike said.
Will Pike is equally excited about this year’s event and how the program has developed. “We are thrilled with how the Pike Fellows has taken shape since we started in 2017. The UVA Engineering and advancement teams have been working tirelessly to bring our vision for the program to life in a way that is both impactful for these young entrepreneurs and complementary to their overall student experience at the University. We are looking forward to an engaging event this year with such a diverse group of students from across Grounds. I can’t wait to see which team takes home the prize,” Pike said.
Can’t make it in person to Monday night’s event? Watch it live here.