By: Lexie Newhouse
GEORGIA STATE STADIUM – Pitches began early afternoon last Thursday at Georgia State Stadium for the preliminary round of Demo Day, a cumulating event for the 2020 Cohort of Main Street Entrepreneurs at Georgia State. Ten companies in the Seed Stage track and ten companies in Startup Stage track competed from the 2020 Cohort of the Main Street Entrepreneurs Seed Fund, only selecting the top five of each track to advance to finals.
As judges deliberated, the Main Street entrepreneurs had the opportunity to showcase their companies. Ecosystem leaders like Joey Womack of WeWork Labs and David Cummings of Atlanta Tech Village were present among other special guests which included industry partners, venture capitalists, and university leadership to interact with these Georgia State entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs in Residence Musaddeq Khan (MK) and Jamine Moton announced the five finalists of each track, including ArteHub, Bukhari Tutoring & Health, EcoDrop Technologies, Observe and Students Expressing Life through Fashion (SELF) for Seed Stage. Angel Assistance, ArtzyBella, Beyond the Classroom, SweatPack and Totem Agency Co. advanced in the Startup Stage track.
Between pitches and remarks, Business RadioX was broadcasting live and interviewing university, industry and ecosystem leaders. Hosts Lee Kantor and Stone Payton welcomed names like Brent Wouters of ValueKor, Ashish Thakur of Atlanta CEO Council and Art Recesso of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia to the microphone.
President Becker of Georgia State University offered opening remarks before these ten companies began final round pitches, reflecting on the university’s growing efforts to continue spurring innovation and entrepreneurship across campus and throughout Downtown Atlanta.
“The future is bright, and the pipeline is strong,” noted Dr. Jennifer Sherer, Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute at Georgia State.
Between Seed and Startup Stage pitches, Dean Richard Phillips of the Robinson College of Business shared with the audience Georgia State’s interdisciplinary approach to entrepreneurship, highlighting the diversity of students, alumni, and disciplines in the 2020 Main Street Cohort.
Following finalist pitches, Sherer welcomed Provost Wendy Hensel to the stage. With excitement, Provost Hensel announced the 2020 winners of the inaugural cohort alongside Marcus Ruzek of The Marcus Foundation.
Congratulations to our Seed Stage winners London Balbosa (B.I.S. ’19) and Rhythm Varshney (M.S. ’19) of ArteHub for taking home first place and a $7,500 prize, Usama Muta-Ali (A.S. ’15 & B.S. ’21) of Bukhari Tutoring & Health for placing second with a $5,000 prize, and Nicole Toole (B.B.A. ’22) and Ishir Vasavada (B.B.A. ’19) of EcoDrop Technologies for winning third place and a $2,500 prize.
Congratulations to our Seed Stage winners Ashley Daramola (B.I.S. ’10) of ArtzyBella for taking home first place and a $10,000 prize, Ashley Richardson (B.S. ’17) of Totem Agency Co. for placing second with a $7,500 prize, and Umama Kibria (B.B.A. ’14) of SweatPack for winning third place and a $5,000 prize.
A special thank-you to all the judges that participated in Demo Day as well as the mentors that supported our inaugural cohort with advice and coaching in preparation for this cumulating event.
The Main Street Entrepreneurs Seed Fund supports Georgia State student entrepreneurs, recent alumni and Georgia State community entrepreneurs with seed funding and mentorship to start and grow new ventures. This program was designed to support the creation of 10 new businesses in metro Atlanta by June 2020 and is overseen by the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute.
The Marcus Foundation is the private philanthropic foundation of Bernie Marcus. Bernie Marcus is a co-founder of The Home Depot. Since his retirement from the company in 2001, he has been a philanthropist and Chairman of The Marcus Foundation. Bernie is a patriot and staunch supporter of American military, veterans, and their families The Marcus Foundation focuses on five areas: children, Jewish causes, medical research, free enterprise, and community.