Heller Startup Challenge pitches feature tenant organizations, regenerative seaweed farming, and NFTs for fundraising

November 16, 2021

Teams of student innovators worked together over the course of a weekend to develop and pitch social startup enterprise ideas as part of the 9th annual Heller Startup Challenge earlier this month.

This intensive, three-day social entrepreneurship initiative, open to Heller students as well as undergraduates and alumni, gives students who aren’t in the Heller MBA program or the International Business School an opportunity to put their ideas to the test. Participants form or join teams around an idea to solve a pressing social issue, develop a business plan with the help of a mentor, learn from peers with different skill sets and pitch their plan at the end of the weekend.

Teams were awarded prizes for first, second and third place, as well as people’s choice.

Four students pose with a check for the Tenant2Tenant team1st place and people’s choice winner – Tenant2Tenant

  • Shiko Rugene, MBA'23 
  • Alton McCall, MBA'23 
  • Sam Aronson, MBA'23
  • Andy Mendez, MA SID/MBA'23

“Tenant2Tenant: Rebalancing power in favor of tenants is a nonprofit organization seeking to challenge the existing power dynamic between landlords and off-campus student tenants. Tenant2Tenant provides a platform to evaluate landlords, offers a consolidated place for resources, and connects students with their peers. Relationships with local universities enable us to reach vulnerable students in need of support, while creating a safe ecosystem to exchange information.”

Two students pose with a check for the VertiAlgas team2nd place – VertiAlgas

  • Beck Hayes, MA SID/MBA'22
  • Ariel Wexler, MA SID/MBA'22

VertiAlgas: “We are connectors with a mission to improve coastal community livelihoods in Latin America through vertical regenerative ocean seaweed farming.  We provide training, resources, and new channels within the global seaweed market. By partnering with women led cooperatives we can offer alternative income streams for vulnerable families with a new and innovative farming practice.”

Two students pose with a check for the Mission Driven NFT team3rd place – Mission Driven NFT

  • Douglass Guernsey, MBA’23
  • Varun Edupuganti, MBA'22
Mission Driven NFT: “We create 3D digital objects to sell to university donors. We connect students, alumni and donors to the school's mission by creating unique, interactive NFTs to support fundraising campaigns. From digital research molecules, to jerseys, buildings, and awards, we work with artists to create beautiful and inspirational NFTs from the unique stories of our partners. Our platform is everything the university needs to create branded NFTs, from consultation to marketing to drop. (An NFT is a Non-Fungible-Token, a digital object with a unique ‘fingerprint.’)”