Polsky Accelerator Program Concludes with Demo Day

For the past 10 weeks, 14 companies have participated in the 2018 Polsky Accelerator program. The annual program is designed for both for-profit and not-for-profit startups to develop their ventures. Over the course of the summer, teams made the Polsky Center’s 34,000 square foot co-working space on 53rdStreet in Hyde Park their temporary headquarters where they participated in programming, received coaching from Polsky Center staff members, and continued to build their business models.

Now in its seventh year, the Polsky Accelerator company portfolio has risen to 58 teams – including notable alumni such as BallotReady, Moneythink, and ZipFit Denim. Alum companies have raised $10 million in funding – with three companies having been acquired (HireBrite, matchist, SmartLine).

The program culminated on Tuesday, August 28 with a Demo Day, where teams presented their business plans to students, alumni, investors, members of the public, and a panel of esteemed judges. This year, the sole award given out was left up to the discretion of the audience. Ted Engels, AB ’18,  won Crowd Favorite for his business plan presentation for SinkGuard, a company that designs and licenses products that help control infections in the ICU.

“Spending 10 weeks growing a business means long hours and lots of ups and downs,” said E.J. Reedy, Senior Director of the Polsky Exchange. “All 14 teams, which included more than 70 students, finished out their summers on a high note at Demo Day. We are proud of their hard work and efforts to find market and grow their ideas into businesses, and look forward to watching them achieve success in the future.”

Members of the 2018 Polsky Accelerator included:

Aegis AI employs computer vision to detect firearms and weapons on real-time security camera feeds, immediately notifying law enforcement and bystanders. This enables law enforcement to respond more rapidly and targeted. Team members: Sonny Tai and Ben Ziomek.

Boss Bites is a snack company that uses nutrient-dense ingredients and seasonings from around the world to provide you with a better way of satisfying your cravings for a salty snack. Team members: Mayuri Baheti and Danielle Matarasso.

BrewBike provides coffee to college communities in the most convenient way, every day. BrewBike serves cold brew coffee at lean retail locations and through wholesale accounts, while empowering students to launch BrewBike at their schools. Team members: Randy Paris, MBA ’18. BrewBike was a finalist in the 2018 Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge.

BTRFY is reimagining snacking for a better world. Team members: Kati Karrotki, Tyler Huggins, and Justin Whitley. BTRFY is also participating in the Polsky Center’s I-Corps program and was part of the first cohort of Argonne’s Chain Reaction Innovations incubator.

Debate it Forward cultivates healthy discussion among young people through improving self-advocacy, harnessing analytical thinking, and developing respectful disagreement. Team members: Leah Shapiro and Josh Aaronson. Debate it Forward was a finalist in the 2018 College New Venture Challenge.

D20 Robotics creates experiences that make drinking even more fun! Team members: Will Fischer and Disha Malik. D20 Robotics participated in Phase II of the 2018 New Venture Challenge.

Fiduscript provides life-saving opioid overdose medicines delivered to your home. Team members: James Lott, Straker Carryer, Joy Rooney, and Maryiam Saifuddin. Fiduscript participated in the 2018 John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge.

FUSEis creating a new social media platform that allows users to engage more meaningfully by curating group conversations around current events. Team members: Nick Aldridge, JP Castella, Henry Clarke, and Isaac Troncoso. Landslide participated in the College New Venture Challenge.

Gather Activism is the digital tool for activism. We provide organizers with a platform to manage mass outreach for their events and calls to action, and we provide activists with aggregated opportunities to engage in political reform. Team members: Alex Swerdlow, Ryan Kuang, and Marley Rosario. Gather Activism was a finalist in the 2017 College New Venture Challenge and in the 2018 Social New Venture Challenge.

GGLeagues is a recreational video game league designed to make gaming a social experience for players by providing a structure similar to recreational/intramural sports leagues. Team members: Erich Bao, Michael Cui, and Michael Riechmann.

Hyphen-Healthcare is a web-based platform that makes it easy and affordable for employers to cover the cost of basic healthcare services for part-time employees. We work directly with healthcare providers to curate packages of basic services. Team members: Kevin Berena and Frank Calabrese.

Kaoshi provides a platform that enables peer-to-peer international money transfer avoiding the need for third-party money transmitters who exact exorbitant fees and impose mark-ups on foreign exchange rates. Team member: Chooki Arinze. Kaoshi has participated in the Polsky Center’s I-Corps program.

SinkGuard designs and licenses products that help control infections in the ICU. We are currently working on the SinkGuard Drain Assembly, an antimicrobial and self-disinfecting sink drain that eliminates and quarantines pneumonia-causing strains of Pseudomonas and Klebsiella. Team member: Ted Engels. SinkGuard, Inc. was a finalist in the 2018 College New Venture Challenge and participated in the Polsky Center I-Corps program. Crowd favorite at the 2018 Polsky Accelerator Demo Day.

Veda Grace is an AI dermatologist that ensures women achieve better outcomes from skin care. We have remastered medical research-grade diagnostic skin tests into 20 quick mini tests that consumers perform in a retail setting.Team member: Vinay Rawfani.

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