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Data-Driven Emergency Response Startup Wins First Place in the Greater Good Challenge

On December 3, 2021, 10 teams of Columbia University School of Professional Studies students and alumni, along with their peers and business partners across the world, delivered short presentations of their novel business ideas aimed at improving the greater good. Called "The Greater Good Challenge," this pitch competition was a culmination of four months of teams coming together, submitting proposals, working with professional coaches to refine their ideas, and presenting their businesses to a panel of judges—all in front of a live audience made up of more than 250 family, friends, and Columbia community members who tuned in from 27 countries. 

All teams competed for a total of $25,000 in prize money, which was awarded to the first, second, and third place winners. The audience also engaged by choosing their favorite team, the winner of which walked away with $1,000.

This all wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of the Beba Innovation & Entrepreneurship Foundation. For the second year in a row, this organization recognized the potential of our SPS students to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems and rose to action by giving our school a monetary gift.  

In return, the Beba Foundation and everyone else in attendance at The Greater Good Challenge saw the following three teams win the top prizes: 

1st Place: Logista 

2nd Place: SiMaggie

3rd Place: Soluminos

Audience Pick: SiMaggie 

Logista’s team is made up of Negotiation and Conflict Resolution graduate, Ethan Downing, as well as Nancy Chow, Steven Medley, and Drew Downing. Logista is a rapidly deployable logistics solution that gives emergency responders accurate, data-driven insights in order to save lives when time and resources are scarce.

SiMaggie’s team consists of current SPS students Gede Wahana Putra and Romauli Butarbutar from the Construction Administration and Applied Analytics programs, respectively, along with teammates Gladys Datu Tangkeallo, Ben Benarivo, and Lili Nur Indah Sari. SiMaggie’s plan is to tap into the potential of those untreated organic waste, establishing a circular economy to help solve fish and poultry farmers’ problems in Jakarta. 

The Soluminos team has an alumna and two current students from the Sustainability Management program: Cynthia Leung, Thomas Scheiter, and Julia Millot. Alex Shin and Jade Qiu round out the team, with a business plan centered around converting food carts from gas generators to battery charging stations.

Each team that presented at The Greater Good Challenge impressed our judges with their innovative ideas intended to improve the social, economic, political, technological and environmental conditions of mankind, societies, and the planet in the time of COVID-19 and beyond. We appreciate all the work they put into their pitches. 

As for how the audience felt about the competition, 91% of those in attendance said they would recommend this event to their friends. Even the judges and coaches found the Challenge extremely rewarding, with 100% of them saying that they would come back and serve again next year. 

While these statistics are encouraging, here at Columbia SPS, we know that we can do better. And if you have any ideas on how we can improve this Challenge, please tell us at careerdesignlab@columbia!