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Broad Startups Advance in SXSW Student Startup Madness Competition

SXSW signageBy Kait Kisel, student writer

The original “starting field of 64” was recently released for the annual SXSW Student Startup Madness competition, which showcases college digital media startups. More than 200 student startups applied to the competition, which included 16 teams from Michigan State University – the most of any schools in the nation.

Of the 64 startups chosen to proceed past the first round of the competition, Spartans represented six teams – four of which feature Broad College of Business students as founders. Michigan State University’s representation at the first round of the competition included:

  • Blue Marble Studios – Demi Yang (BA Supply Chain Management ’19)
  • Icebreaker App
  • Meonto
  • Smart Staffing – Bailey Paxton (BA Finance ’18)
  • venYOUcast – Nick Bradley (BA Supply Chain Management ’19)
  • Vloggle – Christian Marougi (BA Accounting ’20)

The Student Startup Madness tournament allows students to compete against one another, building their networks, all while attracting potential investors and entrepreneurs who can help their dreams become a reality.

Prior winners of the competition have included the likes of Facebook, Snapchat, and Google. Rounds one and two of the competition take place online, while the final round of eight contestant groups will be held on stage at SXSW Interactive in Austin, TX. Here, the final round of competitors will provide their sales pitch to a panel of judges.

Bailey Paxton headshot
Broad College of Business student Bailey Paxton, founder of Smart Staffing, has led his team into the second round of the SXSW Student Startup Madness competition, surpassing 168 other startup applicants from universities across the country.

The competition is currently in its second round. Of the six teams from Michigan State that surpassed 136 other applicants to make it into the starting 64, one team is advancing from the Broad College of Business to join 32 others in round two. Smart Staffing, founded by Paxton in 2017, was created with the intent of optimizing the process of matching caregivers and patients for elderly home healthcare companies.

“Smart Staffing is a map-based program that gives staffing recommendations based on patient needs, caregiver background, location, and personality. Our software can save owners $45,000–$90,000 a year in direct overhead costs while maximizing revenue, minimizing scheduling errors, and improving caregiver retention and customer satisfaction,” notes Paxton.

Reflecting on the driving force behind the creation of Smart Staffing, Paxton recalls advice he received many years ago from his dad, “If you don’t build your own dreams, someone else will hire you to help build theirs.”

Paxton, whose family is in the business of homecare, has worked as a caregiver himself, providing him with real-time experience in the field of the product he and his team have created. Paxton states, “I have seen first hand the major pain points of one of the fastest growing industries in the country.” Having this past experience is something that he believes has enabled himself and his team to be differentiated from their competitors.

“The Broad College offers great classes in the STEM field,” recalls Paxton, who encourages other Broad students to partake in such classes, as he accredits them to his techniques in problem solving that have led him to where he is today.


Eli Broad College of Business

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