May 18, 2022
Winners have been announced for the end-of-year entrepreneurship competitions at the Paul J. and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Earlier this month, Anirban Banerjee, MBA ’22, won the 2021-2022 Severino Center Change the World Challenge Best of the Best Award for his presentation of TekForge. He was selected for the $5,000 prize from the winners of the fall and spring Change the World Challenge competitions.
A panel of alumni judges was asked to rate each project on problem comprehension, customer validation, market analysis, and communication skills. Additionally, student competitors this year were asked to explain their process of how they went about validating a problem in the market through customer interviews rather than simply presenting their idea.
TekForge is an idea for a multisided platform that pairs small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with technical service providers to successfully follow and meet contractual obligations of their deliverables while exceeding the SMBs’ goals.
Also announced this week were the Class of ’51 Award winners. These awards are chosen from teams of undergraduate and graduate students to encourage early development of entrepreneurial ideas. A group of alumni, including a member of the Class of ’51, reviews the business ideas and teams’ progress to determine the winners.
This year’s top prize went to a group of three architecture students graduating in May and a student from the University of Southern California. Nathan Musera, Allen Bell, and Ben Elmer (Rensselaer) and Aidan Leitch (USC) created Reclaimed Fiber, a material made of fibrous waste products that can be developed into an affordable, high-quality building material replacement for plywood, sheetrock, and chipboard. Quadir Russell, ITWS/BSAN ’22, took second place for TrainU, a multisided platform connecting student athletes to student trainers. Third place went to Paul Gaddy, CS ’25, for PrograMeet, a social platform that links high school students in their extracurricular academic programs.
The Business Model Competition winners were also recently announced. The goal for the Rensselaer Business Model Competition is to provide student entrepreneurs with the opportunity to improve their business model presentation through workshops, coaching, and virtual practice sessions. Sponsored in part by Rensselaer alumni Vikash and Vikram Agrawal, this competition is judged by community members and alumni who review business elements such as market opportunity, management capability, and growth strategy.
Noé Horowitz, CS ’22, won first place in the Business Model Competition for NFT Resume Authentication, his idea to harness the power of cryptography, blockchain, and automated processes to verify credentials. The Reclaimed Fiber team took second place. TrainU came in third.
The Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship at Rensselaer guides, mentors, and coaches student-based startup businesses from all disciplines across campus to connect those who are starting businesses to resources and networks within and beyond.