By Hally Darnell
We are still weeks away from the start of March Madness, but if you’re already itching to make a bracket, look no further than the Student Startup Madness tournament, a nationwide tournament-style competition for college student digital media startups. The competition, open to student startups from any college in North America, holds its first two rounds online, then regional semi-finals supported and promoted by host universities, and ending with the “Entrepreneurial Eight” national finals at South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive in March.
While more than 200 student startups applied for entry into the competition, only 64 teams were selected for the first round, with Michigan State University holding the lead for most teams represented in the starting field.
SSM provides college student startups the opportunity to “live the entrepreneurial dream” by competing against fellow student entrepreneurs, grabbing the attention of potential investors and leaders in the startup community, and building an elite professional network.
Eight student entrepreneur groups from Michigan State made it into the first round, including three Broad student-entrepreneurs: Bailey Paxton (BA Supply Chain Management ’19) of Horizon and Paxton Medical, as well as Jeffrey Couger (BA Finance ’18) and Christian Murau (BA Accounting ’17) of Retail Jump (iNeed).
In SSM’s current semi-final round, 32 teams have moved on, and Broad College of Business is still being represented by the Retail Jump (iNeed) startup team, co-founded by Couger (CEO) and Murau (CFO). iNeed is a search engine that lets you find products of all kinds across millions of brick-and-mortar stores across the country. When you search for any product on iNeed, the app shows a map with pins of retailers carrying the item. You can scroll through to see the prices of products of each store and how far away each store is. The app is available on Apple’s App Store, Amazon’s Appstore and Google Play. iNeed’s counterpart, Retail Jump, Inc. is a retail analytics and advertising company that builds relationships with retailers and provide valuable consumer information that they derive from iNeed.
“It makes the experience better and increases the ability for retail stores and brick-and-mortar stores to compete with e-commerce,” Couger said of Retail Jump.
With stakes high, Cougar and Murau have just one more round to dominate before packing their bags for Austin.
So, now that you know how SSM works, it’s time to start filling in those brackets.
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