The Gallaudet Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (GIEI) / Village Capital (VilCap) Pitch Competition was held Tuesday, April 24, 2018, at Gallaudet's Chapel Hall.
The competition featured eight teams, and was judged by James Sorenson, Sorenson Impact Foundation; Jim Meisser, CEO of Hiawatha National Bank; Jessica Moseley, CEO of TCS Interpreting; Melissa Malzkuhn, ’04 & G-’08, digital innovation and media strategy manager, Visual Language & Visual Learning Research Center, and co-founder of Ink & Salt; and Peter Lundquist, head of product of VilCap.
Warren "Wawa" Snipe, ’94, served as the master of ceremony.
"All eight teams did an amazing job and demonstrated true grit, passion, and commitment going through a disciplined 15-week early stage entrepreneurship program this semester," said Ryan Maliszewski, GIEI director. "They were all winners in our book."
The success of the well-attended pitch competition can be attributed to the leadership of Maliszewski; the support of GIEI program coordinator, Keith Doane, ’14; and VilCap facilitators Jim Atwater and Emily Edwards.
Prizes for the winning pitches were initially $5,000 for first place, and $2,500 and $1,000 for first and second runners up, along with two $500 awards, one for most spirited pitch and the other for peer selection. However, during the the judges' scoring session, Sorenson Impact Foundation offered to raise the prizes to $15,000 for first place, $8,000 for second place, and $4,000 for third place. This brought the total prize money to $28,000, which was met with a lot of enthusiasm from the teams.
First place ($15,000): ClearMask—humanizing the patient experience. From left: James Sorenson; Melissa Malzkuhn, '04 & G-'08, digital innovation and media strategy manager, Visual Language & Visual Learning Research Center, and co-founder of Ink & Salt; Aaron Hsu (ClearMask); Deborah Nathanson, '97 (ClearMask); Peter Lundquist, head of product of VilCap; Jessica Moseley, CEO of TCS Interpreting; and Jim Meisser, CEO of Hiawatha National Bank. ClearMask also won the $500 peer selection prize.
Second place ($8,000): MunXe—an on-campus food delivery service platform. From left: students Matt Sherman and Logan Waldo.
Third Place ($4,000): Phenomworks—"Deaf lens" media production company. From left: Javier Tabares, ’16, Andy Tao, Andrew St. Cyr, ’17, and Dmitri Foreman, ’17.
Hiawatha Most Spirited (Judge's Choice, $500): Raw Caffe—high end organic coffee B2C and B2B online marketplace, won the $500 Judge's Choice prize.
Additional teams included CorpsTHAT, a social innovation team supporting deaf conservation corps activities led by Sachiko Flores, G-’14 and Emma Bixler; Eventida, an accessible room and event booking platform led by Lee and Lisi Whitworth; FEEL Magazine, a deaf arts magazine founded by student Nikolya Sereda; and PahRooms, an accessible room renting platform led by Pinky Collie, ’15.
All participating teams received a $500 credit to DeafMade, along with several in-kind services from VilCap to include Amazon Web Services, Kiva Zip Loans, and HubSpot.