Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Big East Conference Men's Basketball games aren't the only exciting matches happening this month. The BIG EAST Startup Challenge is going virtual in 2021 for the first time in history. Seton Hall and the ten other Big East universities are gearing up to vie for the coveted title of top entrepreneurship team on February 25th from 6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. EST. The contest is sponsored by the Big East Conference and will be hosted by Georgetown University and broadcast on Facebook Live.
In this exciting competition, student entrepreneurs will have five minutes to pitch their innovative business ideas to a panel of judges comprised of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and BIG EAST alumni. Each university selected one team of undergraduate entrepreneurs to participate in the Shark-Tank-like contest. Student entrepreneurs will be evaluated on the originality of their idea as well as the feasibility and sustainability of their business model. The first-place team will be awarded a cash prize of $700, and the second-place team will take home $300.
Seton Hall University will be represented by Buccino Leadership Institute Juniors Rachel Badway and Robin Schilke, co-founders of LeadAhead, an interactive leadership training platform. The duo came up with the idea for LeadAhead when they realized that most students outside of their program did not have access to the "soft-skills" leadership training that is vital to professional success. The Buccino Leadership Institute is the first interdisciplinary undergraduate leadership program of its kind in the United States.
"Leadership training should be accessible to everyone and LeadAhead aims to give students access from wherever they are, on their own time," said Badway, a finance major in the Stillman School of Business. "I am excited for the Big East contest to represent SHU." CommArts major Schilke echoed her sentiments. "I'm honored to be able to pitch the LeadAhead app with Rachel in the Big East Startup competition. With the passion for leadership development that Rachel and I share, we're excited to provide this resource to other college students!"
Susan Scherreik, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Seton Hall, shared her enthusiasm for the team to take Lead Ahead to the next level and stated, "We are honored to participate in the Big East Startup Challenge and thrilled to have LeadAhead represent Seton Hall University. Rachel and Robin are dynamic student entrepreneurs and LeadAhead is a terrific concept. Leadership training is so important to professional success, and the team aims to provide access to leadership training to all students. We are very proud of their efforts."
Last April, Badway and Schilke were winners in the 2020 Pirates Pitch Finalists competition. Part of their prize was the opportunity to participate in the inaugural Pirates Launch Pad summer accelerator program, where they were awarded additional seed funding to develop their app. LeadAhead was also a winner in the first round of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization 2020 startup competition in November, which was hosted by the University of Tampa.
The LeadAhead app is expected to launch later this year, and the goal is for universities to invest in the app so that all of their students have equal access to leadership training.
You are invited to cheer on the LeadAhead team while they present at the BIG EAST. You can see them live in action by joining the following link:
Public Registration to Observe the 2021 BIG EAST Startup Challenge