Startups strut their stuff at Startup Launch finale

Photo by Nikita Peker

On Aug. 30, over two dozen startup companies pitched themselves in less than three minutes to over 600 local investors, representatives from companies, and interested students.

The event at the Fox Theater was the CREATE-X program’s fourth annual Demo Day, where students, who were mentored for the past two semesters, debuted their companies.

“Georgia Tech has been about innovation since its start,” President G.P. “Bud” Peterson noted, stating that innovation at Tech is something he’s happy to see “transitioning from something the faculty or institute did, to something the students [are actually] doing.”

Dr. Raghupathy Sivakumar, the founding director of Tech’s CREATE-X program, kicked off Wednesday night’s event by sharing insight into the young startups. From interviewing a team who was abroad in South Korea, to having to explain to building security that a prototype product wasn’t a bomb threat, this year’s groups were certainly what he would describe as “memorable from the beginning.” Of the 185 interviews with applicants they conducted this year, the selected 27 teams’ members hailed from 28 different majors.

After pitching their groups, the startups demonstrated their
products in the “Demo Pit” while answering questions and networking with interested companies. The packed room filled with the sound of drums, the smells of freshly brewed coffee and sounds of astonishment gave a glimpse into the work done by these teams.

The program provides
mentoring from faculty and
professionals, along with $20,000 in funding to help the groups on their way. Stephen Schwahn from Crescendo, one of the startups, credits the mentorship aspect of the program as one of the most valuable resources, saying that “the program really enabled us to have the best and brightest minds in industry to be our personal mentors,” something he noted is “[not] easy to come by.”

CREATE-X is designed to instill entrepreneurial confidence in Tech’s undergraduate students. CREATE-X students explore entrepreneurship by jumping head first into launching their own startup during a two semester course.

With seed funding, legal assistance and intensive coaching, students who are accepted into the program often go on to have successful businesses and have even found their way onto the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

This year’s “batch”, or cohort, of 27 is the largest the program has seen and their rapidly growing popularity is setting CREATE-X up to reach their 300-startups-a-year goal.