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Digital Adventures Wins ‘Crowd Favorite’ at the 2019 Polsky Accelerator Demo Day

The 2019 Polsky Accelerator cohort presents at Demo Day.

For the past 10 weeks, 13 companies have participated in the 2019 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 53rd Street in Hyde Park their temporary headquarters where they participated in programming, received coaching from Polsky Center staff members, and continued to refine their business models.

Now in its eight year, the Polsky Accelerator company portfolio has risen to 88 teams – including notable alumni such as BallotReady, Moneythink, and ZipFit Denim. Alumni companies have raised more than $32 million in funding – with three companies having been acquired (HireBrite, matchist, SmartLine).

The program culminated on Thursday, September 5 with a Demo Day, where teams presented their business plans to students, alumni, investors, members of the public, and a panel of esteemed judges. Keeping with Demo Day tradition, the only award given day-of was left up to the discretion of the audience. Arjun Venkataswamy and Omowale Casselle, won Crowd Favorite for their business plan presentation for Digital Adventures, which teaches kids ages 4-18 how to build with technology in retail-based learning studios led by charismatic instructors.

“Entrepreneurship can be intense and lonely, but it also creates an opportunity to forge unique relationships between wildly different groups of people,” said Crissy Ritter, Assistant Director at the Polsky Center. “It has been incredible to see how hard the 13 teams in our Accelerator have worked on growing their ventures over the last 10 weeks, but I’m most proud of how hard they have worked to build this little family. Despite the daily grind all summer long, everyone in this cohort was willing to take time out of their day to support their fellow entrepreneurs.”

Members of the 2019 Polsky Accelerator included:

A’goVest is Mexico’s first female-focused automated financial platform for emerging affluent Mexican women eager for a financially independent future. We streamline and empower female investing by offering affordable, personalized investment portfolios and supportive educational tools. Team members: Marisol Perez-Chow and Maria Fernanda Cuadra. Perez-Chow is a Herman Fellow. 

Apollo Superfoods is a food company creating honest, healthy snacks that celebrate culturally significant superfoods in Mexico. Team members: Ana Sofia Fernandez and Enrique Evoli. Apollo Foods is a member of the Edward L. Kaplan ’71, New Venture Challenge 2019 cohort. 

Business Services Collective provides a shared back office for small, minority-owned construction companies. By lowering the cost to delegate essential tasks like big estimation and bookkeeping, they enable entrepreneurs of color to focus on growth and become engines of wealth creation in their communities. Team member: Kyle Johnson, MBA ’19. Business Services Collective was a finalist of the John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge 2019 cohort.

Digital Adventures is teaching kids, ages 4-18, how to build with technology in retail-based learning studios led by charismatic instructors. Team members: Arjun Venkataswamy and Omowale Casselle. Digital Adventures was a finalist at the Edward L. Kaplan ’71, New Venture Challenge 2019; voted crowd favorite at the 2019 Polsky Accelerator Demo Day.

Leftbrain  is a tech-firm providing financial, tax, and back office services to musicians and their teams. Leftbrain works with clients in all stages of their careers and can cater service level and price to best match their needs utilizing Leftbrain’s custom-built technology. Team members: Nicholas Judd and Josh Kaplan.

Memento is a platform focused on personalizing your digital cash-gifting experience, specifically for monumental life events. Give them what they want. In a way they will actually remember. Team members: Chelsie Patterson 

Modern Reliance connects older adults with trusted students in their neighborhood to help them tackle the everyday challenges associated with aging in place. Team members: Martin Bolotin and Marley Rosario. Modern Reliance was a finalists at the 2019 College New Venture Challenge.

Neesh is working to upgrade hostels with tools to increase comfort and social engagement. Team members: Yishai (Shai) Kamin, Matthew Bluestone, Lilly Xie, Nathan Groenhout and Mrat Yussubaliyev.

PrepMedians empowers students to succeed on their SATs/ACTs by engaging them through HD sketch comedy and music videos online that teach a proven test prep curriculum. Think of them as Khan Academy meets Saturday Night Live! Team member: Kalyan Ray-Mazumder. PrepMedians is a member of the John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge 2019 cohort.

Snowball is a team-buying marketplace where you team up with your friends to unlock deals on the things you love. Buy better, together. Team member: Ethan Reeder, AB ‘19.

Spott is a new type of social network that lets the user create a real-time personal map of their favorite people, places, and events in order to maximize their experiences wherever they are. Team members: Dayo Adeosun, Varun Iyer, Sam Sendelbach, and Nick Villar. Spott participated in the 2018 College New Venture Challenge. 

Tharzen empowers web designers and small to medium business owners with ease-of-use interfaces to visually edit existing websites themselves, saving time and money. Tharzen’s patented A.I. engine works seamlessly with hard coded websites, existing frameworks, and all web programming languages such as HTML, PHP, and Javascript. Team members: Aseem Bhardwaj and Mikael Mayer. Tharzen is currently participating in the Polsky I-Corps program.

Umbrela helps underbanked communities leverage their social networks to access better savings and emergency lending services. They formalize peer-to-peer lending into savings groups who help each other to save smarter. Team members: Stephen Stapleton and Ari Anisfeld.

 

The Polsky Accelerator program is a 10-week intensive entrepreneurship education program that runs every summer. Learn more about how you can get involved now. >>

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