Funding / Startups / Universities

Meet CMU’s 2023 McGinnis Venture Competition winners

The annual pitch competition out of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship awarded more than $60,000 to student startups.

D.Sole team members. (Courtesy photo)

This editorial article is a part of Universities Month 2023 in’s editorial calendar.

After months of student entrepreneurs vying for more than $60,000 in investments, on March 21, the 2023 McGinnis Venture Competition out of Carnegie Mellon University’s Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship named its six top winners.

The competition gives CMU-based founders the opportunity to gain funding for their ventures while receiving feedback and mentorship from the university’s alumni and investors in the region. This year, the competition included 84 participants.

Launched in 2013, the competition is supported by an endowment from Gerald McGinnis, founder of Respironics, a company later acquired by Philips that is credited with helping to jumpstart the Pittsburgh tech industry in the 21st century. Winners of past competitions include several companies that have gone on to grow successfully in the Pittsburgh region, including Mach9 Robotics, Agot AI and Ecotone Renewables.

Last year’s winners in the graduate track were NiFTy, Advanced Optronics,  E-Carebetics coming in first, second, and third place respectively. In the undergraduate track the winners were Flurry and BAM!

Here’s who took home prizes this year:

Graduate student winners

From the graduate student track, D. Sole was awarded first place along with a $25,000 SAFE investment. The company produces a wearable device for patients with diabetes that aims to significantly reduce the likelihood of neuropathy-induced amputation. D. Sole’s team members are Saisri Akondi, Zilin Zhang, Aman Sinha, Je-han Yang and Dina Kaganer.

For second place, Edulis Therapeutics was selected for its drug delivery system that manages  inflammation in the gut. Team members Spencer Matonis and Vladimir Lamm received a $15,000 SAFE investment for their win.

Edulis team members. (Courtesy photo)

The pitch competition named two third-place winners that each received $10,000 SAFE investments: ReRoad Robotics and Right One.

ReRoad Robotics is a pavement maintenance company using robotics technology to reduce the costs of road repairs, while also seeking to improve workers’ safety. Its team members are John Harrington, Ryan Lee, Alex Pletta and Russell Wong.

ReRoad team members. (Courtesy photo)

Right One is a generative AI platform for job seekers. Its team members are Thomas Park and Erika Chao.

Right One founder. (Courtesy photo)

Undergraduate student winners

The undergraduate track had two winning teams, which received $4,000 and $2,500, respectively.

In first place was Clutch Car Management, an AAA-like company that offers roadside assistance and car services for drivers.

Clutch team members. (Courtesy photo)

In second place was ScOAPe, a company that’s trying to prevent endoscopes — a thin tube with a light and camera on the end that doctors use to examine organs — from becoming blocked and unusable by creating an attachment that eliminates the need for surgeons to remove them in the middle of surgery. The company’s team members included Rohit Mantena, Brandon Lee, Kamil Nowicki, Adi Mittal and Michael McDowell.

ScOAPe team members. (Courtesy photo)

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
Companies: Carnegie Mellon University
Series: Universities Month 2023

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