The Garage, Northwestern's hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation, was a packed house on Thursday, April 13 for our first ever Winter edition of Wildfire Demo Day. Wildfire, The Garage's Pre-Accelerator Program, incubated five teams during the winter quarter alongside a course offered in partnership with the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, ENTREP 395: Radical Entrepreneurship.
Demo Day kicked off with some pizza and networking with the five Wildfire teams (read more about our teams here). Then, after remarks from our corporate sponsor, Exelon, each time had five minute pitches, with three minutes of questions from our judges panel, that included Suzanna Cohodes, a 30 year veteran of the each industry and mentor at The Garage; Eric Ong, senior assiciate at Lightbank; Mike Marasco, experienced entrepreneur and intrapreneur and faculty at Northwestern; and Chris Steiner, co-founder of Aisle50, NYT bestselling author, and EIR at The Garage.
$10,000 was up for grabs, handed out Shark Tank style by the judges and included a $1,000 audience choice award! First to take center stage was Team HearYe--an app to make meetings with friends a whole lot easier. HearYe is a mobile application that’s designed to organize casual group outings in an efficient way by allowing users to create, share, and communicate outing details on a central platform.
Next up, HotPlate shared why their new app would revolutionize the way you eat. HotPlate is designed to help you decide what to order at restaurants. Users can rate individual menu items, so that it is quick and easy to see the best dishes. HotPlate also allows users to see friends’ ratings, search by specific dish item, and receive tailored recommendations. HotPlate took home $1,000 in prize money!
Third, NewMoon Chicago pitched their Spectacle Services that pair performance art, mechanical contraptions, and the fundamental elements of an event —from serving food to musical performance— to create new elements that redefine ultra-premium, cutting-edge aesthetics and transform perceptions. From Drones flying guests appetizers to Aerialists pouring champagne, NewMoon provides the fantastical experience guests are seeking and creates memories they never forget. NewMoon Chicago was awarded $1,250 by our panel of judges.
Verto has developed a retinal-imaging medical device that rapidly helps an ER physician differentiate between a diagnosis of a non-life threatening issue and brainstorm stroke. Diagnosing this issue quickly will lead to tremendously better health outcomes for the patient while saving hospitals nearly a billion dollars annually. VertigoMetric Dx is led by an accomplished physician, a bioengineer, and a Kellogg MBA student. Verto's idea really impressed our judges, and was awarded $3,500!
Finishing things off for the night was Zcruit. Zcruit optimizes the college football recruiting process through predictive analytics, saving college football programs time and improving the quality of recruiting classes. Zcruit was the audience favorite, and took home the $1,000 Audience Choice prize along with $3,250!
Now that Winter Wildfire is behind us, we're gearing up for some of our upcoming events, like VentureCat--Northwestern's annual student startup competition. Be sure to head to our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter to stay in the loop!