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Pitch Competition

Featured photo: GIEI director Ryan Maliszewski gives opening remarks
before the start of the competition.

The Gallaudet Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (GIEI) / Village Capital (VilCap) Pitch Competition was held Tuesday, April 24, 2018, at Gallaudet’s Chapel Hall.

The competition featured eight teams, and was judged by James Sorenson, Sorenson Impact Foundation; Jim Meisser, CEO of Hiawatha National Bank; Jessica Moseley, CEO of TCS Interpreting; Melissa Malzkuhn, ‘04 G-’;08, digital innovation and media strategy manager, Visual Language & Visual Learning Research Center, and co-founder of Ink & Salt; and Peter Lundquist, head of product of VilCap.

Warren “Wawa” Snipe,’94, served as the master of ceremony.

“All eight teams did an amazing job and demonstrated Entrepreneurship & Innovation true grit, passion, and commitment going through a disciplined
15-week early-stage entrepreneurship program this semester,”
said Ryan Maliszewski, GIEI director. “They were all winners in our book.”

The success of the well-attended pitch competition can be attributed to the leadership of Maliszewski; the support of the GIEI program coordinator,
Keith Doane, ‘14; and VilCap facilitators Jim Atwater and Emily Edwards.

Prizes for the winning pitches were initially $5,000 for first place,
and $2,500 and $1,000 for first and second runners up, along with two $500 awards, one for most spirited pitch and the other for peer selection.
However, during the judges’ scoring session, Sorenson Impact Foundation offered to raise the prizes to $15,000 for first place, $8,000 for second place, and $4,000 for third place. This brought the total prize money to $28,000,
which was met with a lot of enthusiasm from the teams.

follow the 'from left' in the image caption
First place ($15,000): ClearMask – humanizing the patient experience.
From left: James Sorenson; Melissa Malzkuhn, ’04; G-’08,
digital innovation and media strategy manager, Visual Language & Visual Learning Research Center, and co-founder of Ink & Salt; Aaron Hsu (ClearMask); Deborah Nathanson, ’97 ClearMask); Peter Lundquist, head of product of VilCap;
Jessica Moseley, CEO of TCS Interpreting; and Jim Meisser, CEO of Hiawatha National Bank. ClearMask also won the $500 peer selection prize.

Follow the 'from left'
Second place ($8,000): MunXe—an on-campus food delivery service platform.
From left: students Matt Sherman and Logan Waldo.

Follow the 'from left'
Third Place ($4,000): Phenomworks—”Deaf lens” media production company.
From left: Javier Tabares, ’16,
Andy Tao,
Andrew St. Cyr, ’17, and
Dmitri Foreman, ’17.

Follow the 'from left'

Hiawatha Most Spirited (Judge’s Choice, $500):
Raw Caffe -; high-end organic coffee B2C and B2B online marketplace,
won the $500 Judge’s Choice prize. Pictured is student Brandon Williams.

Nikolya Sereda
Pictured is student Nikolya Sereda, founder of FEEL Magazine during the opening pitch.

Additional teams included CorpsTHAT, a social innovation team supporting deaf conservation corps activities led by Sachiko Flores, ‘14 and
Emma Bixler; Eventida, an accessible room and event booking platform led by Lee and Lisi Whitworth; FEEL Magazine,
a deaf arts magazine founded by student Nikolya Sereda; and PahRooms, an accessible room renting platform led by Pinky Collie, ’15.

All participating teams received a $500 credit to DeafMade, along with several in-kind services from VilCap to include Amazon Web Services, Kiva Zip Loans, and HubSpot.

All photos courtesy of Donna Frank, ’88 & G-’90.

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