Three NYU Wagner-infused teams triumph at $300K Entrepreneurs Challenge and Mission: Appossible Mobile App Contest
In the exciting culmination of the $300K Entrepreneurs Challenge and Mission: Appossible Mobile App Contest at New York University, three startup endeavors heavily invested with NYU Wagner students and alumni achieved impressive recognition in the final judging on May 4.
The Challenge’s eight-month business accelerator experience sponsored by NYU Stern’s W.R. Berkley Innovation Labs saw judges awarding the grand prize in the Social Venture competition track (in social impact and sustainability) to FairFrame, an AI-enabled language processing platform whose cofounders include NYU Wagner’s Amy Auton-Smith (EMPA 2018) and Paul Becker (EMPA 2018), with team members Maham Khan (Gallatin) and Vishwali Mhasawade (Tandon).
The prize brings $75,000 in startup funding to FairFrame, which also received the Challenge’s management communications best presentation award in the same track. FairFrame is a product designed to help managers make informed decisions about people in the workplace, helping organizations to achieve their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.
“The competition and incubator process helped us make the move from ‘lightbulb moment’ to having a real team and something that makes sense,” said FairFrame’s Auton-Smith. “The support and constructive challenge we received from both the Berkley Innovation Labs team and the NYU community are key factors in our success.”
HealthHuddle, which includes two NYU Wagner students, won Stern’s Mobile App Contest, Mission: Appossible. The HealthHuddle group is constructing a digital platform for hospitals that integrates and displays vital patient information for nurses and quality improvement teams. The cofounders consist of Sabina Braverman (MPA-HPAM 2018), Andrew Dempsey (Tandon), Danny Silk (MPA-HPAM 2018), Sushant Thomas (CAS), and Kerim Davis (School of Medicine, Faculty).
The apps contest was cosponsored by messapps, a mobile app development company.
NYU Wagner’s Silk called the recognition “humbling.”
“I did not come to NYU expecting to be involved in the entrepreneur space, but I'm so glad to have found this community and the many programs available for students,” he said. “It has challenged me to see the role that a startup can play in serving as an agent of change, especially in the public and nonprofit sectors.”
TaQadam, a startup founded by Karina Grosheva (MPA 2015) and including Sarah Aita (MUP 2019) was recognized with one of the event’s three Audience Choice awards. TaQadam aims to optimize technology and human intelligence to build quality datasets for AI, thereby transforming a social challenge of youth unemployment and mass displacement in the Middle East and North Africa region into a market opportunity providing digital jobs.
This year, more than 200 teams with 600+ students, faculty, and alumni from 17 schools across NYU’s global network, vied in the Challenge’s three competition tracks—New Venture, Social Venture, and Technology Venture. There were four winning teams. At the same time, the Mobile App Contest attracted over 200 entries.
“The $300K Entrepreneurs Challenge provides a launch pad for promising ventures by providing training, support, and mentorship,” said Cynthia Franklin, Director of Entrepreneurship at the W.R. Berkley Innovation Labs.
“This year we also saw a few exciting developments—a disproportionately high number of female founders in the finals, as well as an increasing number of teams already demonstrating early market validation with paying customers, letters of intent, and successful soft launches,” she added.