Launch DePaul 2015 Awards Night

IMG_24211From cross-training for horses to an elliptical conversion kit for bikes, the businesses presented on at the Launch DePaul 2015 Awards Night were anything but ordinary.

At the Launch DePaul Awards Night on May 5th, six final teams pitched their new ventures to a judging panel composed of four distinguished entrepreneurs from the Chicago business community. All competed for a prize pool of $17,000 and in-kind professional services. Attendees also selected two Audience Choice Award winners by voting with blue chips in the respective teams’ boxes.

Joining us as VIP judges were Seth Kravitz, Co-Founder of Technori; Maura O’Hara, Executive Director of Illinois Venture Capital Association; John Pletz, Senior Reporter – Technology of Crain’s Chicago Business; and Kip Read, Senior VP – Commercial Banking of American Chartered Bank. Suzanne Nance, Emmy Award-winning Broadcaster and Host of 98.7FM WFMT Chicago served as our Honorary Emcee for the evening. 

In the Undergraduate Division, the judges awarded the $4,000 first prize to Elizabeth Hakimi and her company, UpRide, a bicycle-to-elliptical conversion kit. The $2,500 second prize was awarded to AxeCrate, a subscription box of items for guitarists founded by Ryan Siepka. Kidsband, a wearable that monitors a child’s health and location founded by Jenny Fuerte, received the third prize of $1,000.

In the Graduate Division, the judges awarded the $4,000 first prize to Horse Pilates, founded by Sue Nicole Susenburger, an online service that offers cross-training instruction for horses. The $2,500 second prize was awarded to Yanqin Yang and her company, LingoStone, a website/app for learning English with a built-in marketing tool for companies seeking to connect with Chinese consumers. Smart Insurance Saver, the Priceline for car insurance founded by Syed Hussain, received the third prize of $1,000.

One team in each division received an Audience Choice Award of $1,000. The Audience Choice Award winning teams were UpRide (Elizabeth Hakimi) in the Undergraduate Division and LingoStone (Yanqin Yang) in the Graduate Division.

Launch DePaul Finalists Announced!

Launch DePaul.
After a competitive first round of judging for Launch DePaul 2015, our judges have selected six finalist teams to participate at the Launch DePaul Awards Night on May 5th, 2015.

The six final teams who will be presenting their startup ventures in the final round of the competition are (in alphabetical order):

Horse Pilates
Smart Insurance Saver


At the Awards Night event, each team will present its venture to the VIP judges and the audience in a “Shark Tank” format. Once the six final teams present their ventures, the scores of the VIP judges will be tallied, and $15,000 in prizes will be awarded.

In addition, as an audience member, you will receive a stack of (DePaul blue!) poker chips upon arriving. After hearing the six teams present, each attendee will vote with their poker chips to determine two $1,000 Audience Choice Awards.

Our VIP judges for the evening include: Seth Kravitz, Co-Founder of Technori; Maura O’Hara, Executive Director, Illinois Venture Capital Association; John Pletz, Senior Reporter – Technology, Crain’s Chicago Business; and Kip Read, Senior VP – Commercial Banking, American Chartered Bank.

Tickets for the Launch DePaul Awards Night are still available for purchase, but are running out quickly! Tickets are $45 through April 30th, and $55 after May 1st. Each ticket includes admission to the reception and event, as well as sponsorship of a DePaul student to attend. Students will be selected from the pool of emerging entrepreneurs who entered the Launch DePaul competition but did not make it to the final round, as well as those who contact Molly Haigh at to be added to the registration list.

Accounting firm Kutchins, Robbins & Diamond, social talent recruiter QUEsocial, and Chicago coworking community Grind are sponsors of the evening. Crain’s Chicago Business serves as media sponsor.

Join us on May 5th to celebrate Entrepreneurship at DePaul! To purchase tickets and find out more about Launch DePaul, please click here to watch our video.


Coleman Connections: Earth Day with Food Entrepreneurs on 4/22

Earth Day FoodJoin us on Wednesday, April 22nd in the Lincoln Park Student Center, as we celebrate Earth Day with four of Chicago’s leading entrepreneurs in the “green” food industry. We will host an informal discussion on the innovative work of these local entrepreneurs, and explore ways students can get involved in food-related ventures.

Panelists include Paul Hardej, VP of Production and Development at Farmed Here; Eloise Karlatiras, CEO & President of The Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition; Andrew Lutsey, Co-founder and CEO of Local Foods and Linda Mallers, Founder & CEO of FarmLogix, LLC. A Chipotle representative will also be present to discuss the green initiatives of a large-scale food company.

The event will take place from 4pm-5:30pm on Wednesday, April 22nd, in Room 220 of the Lincoln Park Student Center.

Registration is required! Space is limited and will be reserved on a first-come first-served basis. First 30 attendees receive a free burrito card at Chipotle!
Our program is part of DePaul’s campus-wide Earth Week Celebration, and we are pleased to partner with DePaul’s CEO Club, DePaul’s Urban Farm Organization, and the Department of Environmental Science and Studies.

Additional details about this event and online registration are available here.

Launch DePaul 2015 Finalists

Congratulations to the six final teams of Launch DePaul 2015!

AxeCrate, Ryan Siepka, College of Business
Kidsband, Jenny Fuerte, College of Computing and Digital Media
UpRide, Elizabeth Hakimi, College of Science and Health

Horse Pilates, Sue Nicole Susenburger, College of Communication
LingoStone, Yanqin Yang, College of Business
Smart Insurance Saver, Syed Hussain, College of Business

Please join us in celebrating our finalists at the Launch DePaul Awards Night on May 5, 2014
at the Lincoln Park Student Center, Room 120AB.

These six final teams will be presenting to a group of VIP “Shark-Tank” judges who will vote to select the winning teams. Members of the audience will vote to award an Audience Choice Award.

More information and tickets for awards night are available here.

Calling All Companies: Launch DePaul Sponsorship Opportunities Available

Launch DePaul JudgesAre you a company looking to market to the Chicago area?

Don’t miss out on your chance to build visibility among the DePaul and Chicagoland community! Show your support for the next generation of entrepreneurs by becoming a sponsor of Launch DePaul 2015, DePaul’s annual new venture competition.

Launch DePaul is a university-wide competition, hosted by the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center, that spans over several months and includes workshops with Chicago-area entrepreneurs who help students hone their business ideas before submitting them for judging on April 1st. This year, on May 5th, the six finalist teams will pitch their companies to a 
team of VIP judges made up of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, tech journalists and business professionals in a “Shark-Tank”-like competition. Student teams will compete for a prize pool of $17,000 and the VIP judges will determine the winners in each division, Undergraduate and Graduate. There will also be a People’s Choice Award of $1,000 given to each division.

Sponsors of Launch DePaul receive many benefits, including VIP tickets to the Awards Night Event and the sponsorship of a DePaul student to attend the event. For more information on sponsorship opportunities and benefits, please contact Molly Haigh at or (312) 362-8625.

Undergraduate Summer Startup Internship Program Now Open

Startup Stock PhotosDePaul undergraduates, are you interested in being an intern for a Chicago startup this summer?

This year, the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center will sponsor six student internships over the summer to work at Chicago-area startups and in incubator and co-working spaces such as Grind LaSalleTechNexus, and 1871. All students who apply will participate in a review process, with six students chosen as finalists. The finalist student interns will then choose the top companies from a pool of startups they want to work for, and will be matched with startups accordingly. This program, currently in its second year, is made possible by a grant from the John E. Hughes Foundation.

Interns will work approximately 125 hours over the course of their internship during the summer months of June through August. A stipend of $1500 will be provided to each participating student. Undergraduate students from throughout the university are encouraged to apply.

To apply for a summer startup internship, please complete the online application available on the Coleman Center website. All applications are due by 11:59pm on Monday, May 11th.

Launch DePaul Submission Deadline is April 1st

Launch DePaul.Time is ticking! With the Launch DePaul 2015 submission deadline approaching quickly, it’s time to put the finishing touches on your application, and send it in. All submissions are due by 11:59pm on Wednesday, April 1st, via the online application form on the Coleman Center websiteNo late submissions will be accepted.

Before you submit your application, be sure to familiarize yourself with the updated Launch DePaul Competition Rules and Guidelines. Also, to submit your best possible application — and thereby increase your chances of winning from the pool of $17,000 and in-kind services — please review the Guide to Submitting a Competitive Application, which provides question-by-question explanations of the application.

The first round of judging for Launch DePaul will take place from Wednesday, April 8th to Wednesday, April 15th. Six final teams will be announced Friday, April 17th on Final teams will be invited to present their new ventures at the
Launch DePaul Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, May 5th.

Startup Internship Program Application 2015

DePaul students, apply for a summer startup internship here.

Chicago startups, apply for a summer intern here.


To see what last year’s student interns had to say about the program, click here.

Guide to Submitting a Competitive Application 2015

Launch DePaul. The following is a collection of tips, advice and questions to guide you through the Launch DePaul application. It is intended to help you and your team think more deeply about the application questions. If you have any other questions, please contact the Coleman Center at

Please note: Adhering to the outline below does not guarantee a winning application. All applications will be reviewed by a panel of judges that will determine which teams will continue on in the competition.

  1. General information about the team members, including names, email addresses, ID numbers, anticipated graduation years (if applicable), preferred phone numbers and each member’s connection to DePaul.
  1. Information about each team member’s role, skills, education level, schools, past companies, past projects, URLs, etc.
  1. The name, URL, and brief description of your company and its product or service. (75 words max)
  • Start with a nontechnical description of the concept simple enough for everyone to understand. Think of this as your elevator pitch in writing.
  • If you wish, you can go into detail that describes the concept using the appropriate technical, scientific or professional jargon – within the word limit.
  • DO NOT share anything you consider proprietary. Doing so may prevent you from patenting or obtaining other legal protection for your product or service.
  1. Describe your value proposition. What is the problem you are solving? (75 words max)
  • Think about how your customers will benefit from using your product or service.
  • What customer needs are you satisfying?
    • Is it convenience, efficiency, entertainment, etc.?
    • Are you helping customers get more out of work or life?
    • Are you helping customers meet their goals (e.g. saving money, living greener)?
  1. What’s new, interesting, or different about what your company will do? (75 words max)
  1. Provide information on current or likely competitors, and include key differentiators. (200 words max)
  • What is the competitive landscape for your product or service? Who is offering something similar?
  • Who is offering a substitute to your product or service?
  • Why will customers use or purchase your product or service over your competition’s product or service?
  1. How do you plan to make money? What are your revenue streams? (150 words max)
  • Describe how you plan on charging your customers for your product or service.
  • Will you use a certain pricing model, such as a subscription or freemium model?
  • Do you plan to generate most of your revenue via advertising? If so, from whom?
  • Do you plan to generate most of your revenue by aggregating information? If so, who are potential buyers of the data?
  • If you are considering multiple revenue streams, how much does each contribute to your overall revenues?
  1. What is your cost structure? What is the most expensive cost inherent in your business model? (150 words max)
  • Provide an overview of the cost structure of your venture (consider both fixed and variable costs).
  • Which key resources and activities are most expensive?
  • What is the most expensive cost inherent in your business model, and how will you incorporate that cost into your growth plans?
  1. How far along are you? (75 words max)
  1. If you have accepted outside funding, please describe sources and amounts. (75 words max)
  1. Describe any market research or customer feedback you have gathered. What have you learned? (200 words max)
  • Have you engaged with customers to obtain feedback on your product or service? With how many, and in what way(s)?
  • What changes have you made to your business based on customer input?
  • Have you pivoted your venture? If so, how and in what ways?
  • How do you (or plan to) incorporate customer feedback into your business in an ongoing way?
  1. How do you plan to get your first (or next) customers? (150 words max)

For ventures that are in the planning stages:

  • How will you attract and acquire your first customers?
  • How have you identified your target market? How do you plan to reach them?
  • What are your marketing or advertising plans?
  • Are you going to give your product or service away for free to a certain number of customers? If so, what is the financial impact of this?
  • What do you anticipate as your greatest growth challenges, and how will you address them?

For ventures that have already launched:

  • How did you attract and acquire your first customers? Has this changed?
  • How did you identify your original target market? Has this changed?
  • What were (are) your marketing or advertising efforts?
  • Did (Do) you give your product or service away for free to a certain number of customers?
  • How do you plan on gaining more customers?
  • How do you plan on generating more revenue?
  • Do you have plans to expand geographically or to extend your business in other ways?
  • What do you anticipate as your greatest growth challenges, and how will you address them?
  1. How do you plan to grow? (200 words max)
  1. If you receive funding for your company (either from this competition or elsewhere), how do you intend to use the funds? (150 words max)
  1. Is there any other information you would like to share? (150 words max)

Guide to Submitting a Competitive Application 2015

Coleman Circle Meet & Greet with John Hoesley on 2/17

The Coleman Circle is a new community of business professionals who share a passion for entrepreneurship and want to support DePaul’s Coleman Entrepreneurship Center.
Partners of the Coleman Circle have access to special events, and on Tuesday, February 17th, 6-7:30pm at Theory, we will be gathering with special guest, John Hoesley. Mr. Hoesley, former Managing Director of Silicon Valley Bank, and recently appointed Managing Director of The PrivateBank’s new technology group, will give an informal presentation on the rising trends in entrepreneurship in Chicago. This evening is specifically designed for DePaul Alumni or entrepreneurial business professionals interested in joining the Coleman Circle.
Why do individuals become Coleman Circle partners? They want to:

  • give back to the university
  • give forward to build the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center and the next generation of entrepreneurs
  • get to know on a personal and professional level other entrepreneurial supporters of DePaul and the Center
Participating professionals in the Coleman Circle are committed to supporting the Center on an annual basis ($1,000 donation) and to expanding the reach and impact of the network.
If you’re an entrepreneurial leader who is interested in getting involved with the Center on a deeper level, consider becoming a Partner of this new group. Join us on Tuesday, February 17th,
6-7:30pm at Theory for a meet and greet with other Partners. Come learn more about the Coleman Circle and how you can get involved. Register here to let us know you’re coming.