Program Highlights

Announcing Winners of LaunchPad Pitch Competition at Startup Grind Global Conference

Out of more than 60 student entrepreneurial teams from across the LaunchPad network, five companies stood out from the rest and won a total of $65,000 in prizes.

Out of more than 60 student entrepreneurial teams from schools across the U.S. and Ireland, five companies stood out from the rest at this year’s LaunchPad Pitch Competition: HopscotchReady Teddy by Lumeum, Opollo Technologies, realAppeal, and Yaupon Brothers American Tea pitched and won a total of $65,000 in prizes.

Starting January 12th, top students from across the network were selected to participate in the Blackstone LaunchPad annual startup pitch competition. After receiving one-on-one coaching from Blackstone mentors to help refine their pitches, eight student teams were selected to pitch live in a final round.

The finals were held virtually at Startup Grind’s Global Conference, a global convening of leaders in technology and big brands on the forefront of innovation. Judges from Techstars, Lightship Capital, and Blackstone Growth evaluated the student ventures on the strength of the presentation, the viability of the idea, and existing traction the venture has had. The prize awards will be paid to the student entrepreneurs in recognition of their achievements in preparing for and participating in the pitch competition; there is no obligation to use the prize proceeds for any particular purpose

The 2021 LaunchPad Pitch Competition winners are:

First Place ($25,000): Hopscotch, Marla Beyer, Cofounder and CEO, Cornell University 

Hopscotch is a digital platform that enables pediatric behavioral health providers to provide optimal care to their clients, in and out of the office. Through a suite of plug and play software tools that include customized gamified exercises and interventions, tailor-made telehealth, and wraparound family support, providers can increase client and family engagement, patient satisfaction, streamline their workflows, and increase access to a wider population.

Second Place ($15,000):  Ready Teddy by Lumeum, Max Orozco, CEO, University of Southern California

MRIs are intimidating and scary, resulting in the sedation of 49% in pediatric populations — a rate that can be reduced with adequate preparation. Ready Teddy is a biofeedback MRI training that reduces sedation rates and is creating a healthcare metric informing clinicians which patients can avoid sedation.

Third Place – Tie ($10,000 each):

Opollo Technologies, Ryan Young, Founder and CEO; Anders Rosen, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, University at Buffalo

Operating rooms account for 60% of revenue at healthcare facilities, yet inefficiency in surgery scheduling and forecasting costs more than $5 billion each year. Opollo Technologies, a healthcare technology startup founded by an MD/MBA student with a team of three software engineers and head of sales and marketing, has a completed AI model ready to pilot now to support facilities in need of increased OR capacity and efficiency.

realAppeal, Colton Pace, CEO; Frank DiZenzo, Chief Revenue Officer, University of California, Los Angeles

realAppeal is an online solution that helps property owners save on the costs of real estate ownership. realAppeal enables homeowners and real estate investors to reduce their property taxes, refinance loans, reduce insurance premiums and more, helping property owners save thousands of dollars in a matter of minutes.

People’s Choice ($5,000)

In addition to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners, a People’s Choice award was given this year, for the first time. The People’s Choice award went to:

Yaupon Brothers American Tea, Kyle White, Cofounder & Bryon White, CEO, University of Central Florida

Yaupon Brothers Tea is a company that makes tea from the Florida native Yaupon Holly, an antioxidant-rich plant that also happens to be the only native caffeinated plant in the entire US. Since Yaupon is native, it requires minimal soil inputs and would offer a high-value low-cost cash crop for FL farmers affected by the citrus greening crisis.

In addition to the Pitch Competition held at Startup Grind’s Global Conference in 2021, the college entrepreneurship network is also partnered with Startup Grind to provide students access to the Startup Grind Student Program. The opportunity includes educational and networking events, resources, content, and internship and career opportunities. All students and recent alumni from LaunchPad network schools receive support from their campus-based programs, as well as the global LaunchPad network, regardless of their background, starting point, or future plans. From connecting students with mentors for startup advice to Startup Weekend, Fellowship, and pitch opportunities, students learn key entrepreneurial skills to apply to any startup endeavor or 21st century career.

The views expressed in this commentary are the personal views of the Startup Grind finalists and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Blackstone Group Inc. and The Blackstone Charitable Foundation.