On Tuesday, Penn startup Fever Smart won $10,000 at a student pitch competition.
Fever Smart was crowned the winner of the first-ever Rise of the Rest student speed pitch competition at the National Constitution Center in downtown Philadelphia. Penn Engineering senior William Duckworth, CTO of Fever Smart, beat out nine other finalists and over 75 initial applicants in the competition, which was hosted by former AOL CEO and Revolution Ventures Chairman Steve Case.
“It feels great,” Duckworth said. “I went out there and pitched first. I was worried, but it felt great to win and be able to go up and accept the giant check.”
Duckworth, along with Wharton seniors Aaron Goldstein and Collin Hill, are the founders of Fever Smart, a company that develops small, non-invasive temperature monitoring systems. The $10,000 prize, presented by Revolution Ventures and Blackstone Charitable Foundation, will go directly towards their startup.
“We’ll probably use [the money] to keep working on funding some of our [business-to-business] platforms,” Duckworth said. “We’re doing a pilot program with Walgreens right now, and we’re working on expanding our clinical presence as well.”
At the competition, student teams rattled off 60-second “speed” pitches, followed by 60 more seconds of questions from Case and a panel of judges. The students’ presentations, while short, impressed the judges.
“Students are as sophisticated at solving complex problems as some of the high growth entrepreneurs I come across around the country,” said Amy Stursberg, executive director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and a judge of the student pitch competition. “Some of [their] companies look really exciting and interesting.”
Startups from Penn, Drexel, Temple, Philadelphia University, LaSalle and the University of Delaware participated in the competition. Apart from Fever Smart, three other teams from Penn — C-Crete Technologies, Go Smart Track and Lavoisier — pitched as finalists. While these teams did not win the grand prize, the experience was still very positive and eye opening for the students.
“It was an adrenaline rush,” said Matt McGuire, a second-year Wharton MBA student who pitched on behalf of Lavoisier, an anti-counterfeit medicine startup. “I think we did very well.”
Lavoisier recently took part in the first White House Demo Day this August, so McGuire and his colleagues have high hopes for the future despite not winning the $10,000 prize.
“Right now, we have a $200 billion market to capture, and we’re the best out there,” McGuire said.
Rise of the Rest is a nationwide tour sponsored by Case’s venture capital firm, Revolution LLC, and intends to promote entrepreneurship in cities outside Silicon Valley.
Case emphasized the importance of entrepreneurship when his team dropped by Penn earlier in the day to attend a technology showcase at the Singh Center for Nanotechnology.
“250 years ago America was a startup, and it started not far from here,” Case told the crowd at the Singh Center. “This is a nation built by entrepreneurs, and in Philadelphia, you know this firsthand.”
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who was also at the event, called it a “remarkable” display of university talent and creativity.
“I am very, very proud of what’s going on here at Penn,” Nutter said. “The things that young people — especially in university campuses — are coming up with are just incredible.”
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