Elevator Pitch Finals with Will Pearson '01 of mental_floss

On Friday, November 18th, join us for the Elevator Pitch Finals!

Part of the 13th Annual Duke Start-Up Challenge

Join us for the Elevator Pitch Finals with special guest speaker Will Pearson '01, Co-founder and President of mental_floss, which he started with Mangesh Hattikudar '01 while both were seniors at Duke.

In addition, you will see over a dozen Duke student startup teams deliver one-minute elevator pitches and compete for a $5,000 prize, as well as a $750 prize selected by you the audience!

RSVP on Facebook and join us for this exciting entrepreneurship event. 

About the Finalists
In random order
  • BAMmarketplace -  BAMmarketplace is an online and app research platform for socially driven people.  We provide customers a way to use their purchasing power towards the causes they care about most.   
    • Team Lead: Will Johnson '13, will.johnson@fuqua.duke.edu  
    • Fuqua School of Business
  • Hydrangle Systems -  The Apex is a device that enhances prostate cancer “freezing” treatments by protecting the “sex nerves” surrounding the prostate and preserving potency.  
    • Team Lead: Laura Paulsen '11, lpaulse1@gmail.com  
    • Pratt & The Graduate School
  • Niskriti -  This is an organization to help retired sex workers , start afresh by getting them a job in a new loaction. They would work for small scale industries in remote locations.  
    • Team Lead: Alekhya Nemani '12, nemani.alekhya@gmail.com  
    • Pratt - Master of Engineering Management
  • CranioVation -  CranioVation has developed a brain aneurysm clip invisible to common imaging modalities, allowing diagnosis and treatment of complications.  
    • Team Lead: Vijay Agarwal, Neurosurgery Resident '16, vjagarwal@gmail.com  
    • School of Medicine
  • DrinkSmart -  A smartphone app targeted towards 18-24 year olds that will take care of them if/when they drink, particularly to the point of impairment.   
    • Team Lead: Mallory Contois '12, malloryrcontois@gmail.com  
    • Trinity
  • FIM Fighting the Impulsiveness Monster -  A serious health game aimed at training three specific aspects of cognitive function among adolescents with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  
    • Team Lead: Daniel Riojas '13, daniel.riojas@fuqua.duke.edu  
    • Fuqua School of Business
  • Agora -  Agora is an online marketplace for academic video lessons. Teachers can use Agora to reach a large audience and make a profit. Students gain access to a wide selection of quality lessons.  
    • Team Lead: Alexander Chamessian '18, alexander.chamessian@duke.edu  
    • School of Medicine
  • NeuroSpire -  NeuroSpire is a next-generation market research firm with neuromarketing services utilizing EEG and eye-tracking technology.  
    • Team Lead: Jake Stauch '13, jake.stauch@neurospire.com  
    • Trinity
  • China Elderly Home Care -  Provide trained professionals to bridge elderly homes and healthcare in China, built on a world-class partnership and certification program.  
    • Team Lead: Duke Wong '12, dkw18@duke.edu  
    • Fuqua School of Business
  • Broke Scientist -  A social funding platform that allows basic research science to be driven by the people.  
    • Team Lead: Nick Brandley '14, ncb9@duke.edu  
    • The Graduate School
  • Computer Mouse Alternative -  Improve and manufacture the hat-mounted device which gives people with spinal cord injuries, amputations, shaky hands etc, the ability to control a computer efficiently using their head.  
    • Team Lead: Gavin Ovsak '15, ovsak.gavin@gmail.com  
    • Pratt
  • Star Toilet Paper, LLC -  Don't Rush, Look Before You Flush! Printing advertisements and coupons on toilet paper, while supplying venues with printed toilet paper, at an unbeatable price!  
    • Team Lead: Bryan Silverman '15, bgs13@duke.edu  
    • Trinity
  • TabSprint -  A drink ordering app eliminating the hassle of tabs, credit cards and cash registers from the bar experience. A smarter way to buy drinks.  
    • Team Lead: Grant Warman '12, gpw5@duke.edu  
    • Pratt
  • timbodi.com -  Team-based social platform for youth soccer players and coaches to help them interact with other teams, share results, track performance, and organize games and practices.   
    • Team Lead: Fernando Trueba '12, fernando.trueba@fuqua.duke.edu  
    • Fuqua School of Business
  • CloudGuard -  CloudGuard is a hardware/software package that allows individuals to remotely monitor the status of household objects and appliances.  
    • Team Lead: Ani Mohan '14, acm46@duke.edu  
    • Pratt
  • Rent the Room -  Rent the Room is a rent-by-mail service for home staging accessories (lamps, picture frames, etc.) to provide everyday homeowners access to the designer décor that attracts buyers.   
    • Team Lead: Katie Jorgensen '13, kaj23@duke.edu  
    • Fuqua School of Business
  • MisterWarm -  A shower head that has a water-saving misting function, used to keep people warm and save water while lathering soap.  
    • Team Lead: Catrina Mancini '15, cmmancini93@gmail.com  
    • Pratt
  • Sun Kettle -  A solar-powered kettle to provide economical, safe drinking water to rural communities in developing countries.   
    • Team Lead: Amalina Daud '12, amalina.daud@duke.edu  
    • Pratt - Master of Engineering Management
  • Polymags -  Polymags is an adaptive print and digital subscription service that offers readers access to different magazines every month for the cost of a single subscription.  
    • Team Lead: Jack Beuttell '13, jack.beuttell@duke.edu  
    • Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences & Fuqua School of Business

About Will Pearson '01

Will Pearson, the “Titan of Trivia,” as he’s been called by Newsweek, launched mental_floss magazine in 2001.  It has received rave reviews from national media (Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, The LA Times, Washington Post) and Will is well on his way to building a major media company.

A native of Birmingham, AL, Will (and co-founder Mangesh Hattikudur) started the magazine in a dorm room at Duke and hasn’t looked back.  Among other honors, the company has been selected as one of America’s fastest-growing businesses by Inc magazine four years in a row.  In April 2011, mental_floss was purchased by Felix Dennis and is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Week.

In addition to the magazine, Will and his team have created a popular Web site (www.mentalfloss.com) and a series of eleven best-selling books – including Condensed Knowledge, Forbidden Knowledge, Be Amazing and The Mental Floss History of the World ( HarperCollins).  In their spare time, Will’s crew also created Split Decision, a fast-paced board game.  Other popular products that mental_floss has launched on an unsuspecting world include a line of witty T-shirts, Law School and Med School in a Box and much more.  Later this fall, the twelfth mental_floss book (Mental Floss- The Book) will hit store shelves.

Will has been a guest on CNN Headline News more than 100 times and is a highly sought-after radio guest.

A magna cum laude graduate of Duke University, Will lives with his wife, daughter and son in Birmingham when he’s not tending to business in NYC.

Mark Your Calendars
Friday, Nov 18 @ Reynolds Theater in the Bryan Center at 8:30pm (7:30pm for free food)
After the Men's Basketball Game versus Davidson!

Judges include
  • Brooks Bell '02, Founder and CEO of Brooks Bell Interactive
  • Karen LeVert, Founder and CEO of Southeast TechInventures
  • T. Reid Lewis '84 (Remotely from Washington DC), Co-founder and President of GroupLogic
  • Jesse Lipson '00, Founder and CEO of ShareFile
  • Matt Megaro, Serial Entrepreneur, Executive-in-Residence, Fuqua School of Business
  • Taylor Mingos '07, Founder and CEO of Shoeboxed.com
  • Ryan Spoon '03 (Remotely from San Francisco), Polaris Venture Partners, Founder of BeRecruited
  • Joe Velk '85, Contender Capital
Event Details
  • RSVP on Facebook
  • Open and free for the Duke community (students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, and invited guests)
  • 7:30pm - Free food and drink
  •     Thanks to Douglas Hanna '13 and A Small Orange
  • 8:30pm - Event Begins
  • Free thundersticks for all in attendance
  • Free T-shirts!
  • An Apple TV will be raffled off!
  • Parking will be extremely difficult due to the Men's Basketball Game at 6pm.  There will be limited parking available in the Bryan Center Parking Deck for $10.

Thank you to A Small Orange for the pre-event Reception at 7:30pm.

Prize Money
  • $5000 for the Judge's Choice prize
  • $750 for the People's Choice prize, selected that night via text-messaging
  • $750 for the Best Pitch Delivery, selected by the judges

Next steps