Meet the 6th Annual Social Venture Challenge Finalists

For 12 students, a simple spark of inspiration has led to the opportunity to launch a startup. From witnessing the challenge of teaching English in Hungary to facing the daunting task of navigating life after graduation, five creative teams will compete in the sixth annual Social Venture Challenge Final Showcase for start-up funds on April 11 at 7 p.m.

The teams have made it through several rounds and will pitch their innovative ventures to a panel of expert judges, and the top three teams will split $10,000 of seed funding. According to Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) staff, these teams might just be the strongest group of contestants yet.

“Our goal is to encourage students to do something practical about what they’re passionate about,” says Stephanie Antonucci ’16, CEL’s assistant director.

In anticipation of the Final Showcase, The Bell got a glimpse of the five teams’ unique visions and ventures. Meet the finalists:

Forwords | Dominique (Nikki) Adevai ’19 and Brian (Joe) Barnhart ’19

Hundreds of services teach languages, but Nikki Adevai ’19 has found that those services lack interaction—arguably the most important part, she says. Studying abroad last year, Adevai discovered that Hungarian language teachers spend hours on lesson preparation and have little time to check on the actual progress of their students. So, she decided to create an interactive, digital language platform to alleviate pressure on teachers.

The result is Forwords, an app that teaches language through games and dialogue, and will partner with schools and textbooks and be customizable based on curriculum. Should they win a prize through the Social Venture Challenge, Forwords will invest in marketing and app development.

Rimo | Carita DeTellis ’19, Danielle Maneval ’20 and Elizabeth Koh ’20

Bralettes are the fastest growing undergarment product, and Rimo’s goal is to utilize the momentum to redeem the industry by providing jobs for survivors of sex trafficking. Rimo will partner with an Indian clothing brand, Sudara, that takes women out of the sex trade and provides them with first jobs for their résumés.

Rimo has designed their own bralette to be sold online and in partnering retail locations. “Sudara will create our bralettes and we’ll focus on the design and demand for the product,” says co-founder Carita DeTellis ’19. With prize money, the Rimo team would invest in marketing and website development.

ShuDong | Jasmine Ye ’20 and Caleb Britton ’21

Out of the 500,000 international college students in the United States, only four percent of those with mental illness seek professional help. Jasmine Ye ’20, an international student from China, founded ShuDong—an online peer mentorship program for Chinese students—to break past language barriers and mental health stigmas to help these students.

According to Ye, ShuDong means “tree hollow,” and comes from a Greek myth about a man who struggled to keep a secret and told it to the hollow. In the same way, ShuDong aims to provide comfort for international students by creating the opportunity to speak to counselors in their home language.

In the future, the startup plans to add Korean, Spanish and Ethiopian mentors. If they win SVC, ShuDong will invest in website development and mentor training.

CreateBox | Nick Cannella ’20 and Luke Pollack ’20

Although Nick Cannella ’20 is a biology major, he is passionate about creating videos and spends his free time filming alongside Luke Pollack ’20. The two founded CreateBox, an editing and consulting agency that provides coaching for YouTube creators.

“We started CreateBox out of a sheer passion for content creation and high-quality visuals,” says Pollack. The startup will offer analysis, coaching and commissioned projects to increase each creator’s online audience. If CreateBox wins SVC, they will invest in creative equipment, marketing and legal fees.

Roost | Jackson Blue ’19, John MacGregor ’19 and Ryan Fisher ’19

Jackson Blue ’19, John MacGregor ’19 and Ryan Fisher ’19 will soon be graduating—therefore, they’re all navigating the increased cost of living, searching for roommates and losing a sense of community.

“We make a big deal about [the transition from] high school to college, but not college to the workforce, which is just as important,” says MacGregor.

To help those who are facing the same transitional challenges, they created Roost: a faith-based roommate match program and facilitation service. The Roost app will match roommates, help landlords fill vacancies and recommend local eateries, churches and events for residents. Roost plans to use the prize money on app development and marketing.

The Social Venture Challenge Final Showcase will be held on April 11 at 7 p.m. in the MacDonald Auditorium of Ken Olsen Science Center.

By Ellian Chalfant ’22, communication arts