The winners of the first Greater Good Challenge, sponsored by the Beba Foundation and Turkish Philanthropy Funds, were unveiled at the conclusion of the virtual pitch competition on Friday, October 9th. Hosted by the Career Design Lab, the live competition attracted about 200 attendees representing 20 countries, including students, alumni and staff from SPS and the wider Columbia University community.
Coached by outstanding SPS graduates who run entrepreneurial ventures of their own, ten teams of alumni and students delivered three-minute presentations of their business solutions to environmental, economic, health and socio-political issues especially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The grand prize of $10k was awarded to Sustainability Management alumna Marissa Flores and her partners Fanny Villiers and Paola Constantino; they proposed a system for using microalgae to treat livestock wastewater and deliver clean, sustainable protein for farm animals. The four winning teams will have the opportunity to receive mentoring and advice on bringing their pitches to market from the Beba Foundation.
Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 Greater Good Challenge!
1st Place: Team “Microterra:” Marissa Cuevas Flores (’17SPS, Sustainability Management), Fanny Villiers and Paola Constantino
Pitch: Microterra, a biotechnology startup that converts wastewater into clean water and sustainable protein for livestock (Team 9)
Coach: Thomas Nardacci (’05, Strategic Communication), Founder & CEO, Aurelius Coworks
2nd Place: Team “Kai:” Carolina Acosta (’19SIPA), Liliana Iriarte (’19SPS, Nonprofit Management), Andres Mejia and Angela Pradilla
Pitch: Kai, an app to connect Spanish-speaking Americans with Latin American therapists to improve mental healthcare access and quality, capturing $389M in unreceived care (Team 4)
Coach: Paul Bostick (’10SPS, Construction Administration), Managing Partner & Founder, TechBear
3rd Place: Team “ComfortSpec:” Lori Gupta (’21SPS, Business), Saki Tanaka (’19SPS, Business), Stephanie Lau (’21SPS, Business) and Peter Sharpe (’20SPS, Business)
Pitch: ComfortSpec, a new model speculum designed for cost-efficiency, better imaging technology and greater patient comfort to combat missed cervical cancer screenings that contribute to women’s health disparities (Team 6)
Coach: Kevin Bluer (’11SPS, Technology Management), Head of Training & Ecosystem Engineering, Truffle
4th Place: Team “Soluminos:” Cynthia Leung (’20SPS, Sustainability Management), Geoff Von Zastrow (’20SPS, Sustainability Management) and Gene Sirovskiy
Pitch: Soluminos, a solar charging station for stranded communities in need of energy after a disaster; each station would serve up to 30 people per day (Team 7)
Coach: Greg Shepard (SPS Graduate), Founder and CEO, BOSS Capital Partners
Prize: $1,000 (Audience's Pick)
Thank you to all who participated in the challenge and a special thanks to the Greater Good Challenge judges and coaches.
Ali Beba, Founder, Beba Innovation & Entrepreneurship Foundation
Mark Cutler, Regional Vice President, Northeast Region, SCORE
Eric Haller (’18SPS, Technology Management), EVP, Global Head, Experian DataLabs
Ashley Hicks-Rocha (’11SPS, Strategic Communication), Founder, Black Girls RUN!
Zontee Hou (SPS Graduate, Strategic Communication), Founder & Chief Strategist, Media Volery, LLC
Kevin Bluer (’11SPS, Technology Management), Head of Training & Ecosystem Engineering, Truffle
Trisha Bauman (SPS Graduate, Strategic Communication), CEO & Founder of TJBauman
Paul Bostick (’10SPS, Construction Administration), Managing Partner & Founder, TechBear
Katherine Aul Cervoni (’12SPS, Landscape Design), Founder & Principal, Staghorn NYC
Jason Kang (’16SEAS), Co-Founder, Kinnos
Thomas Nardacci (’05, Strategic Communication), Founder & CEO, Aurelius Coworks
Mary Palmieri (’15SPS, Information and Knowledge Strategy), Co-Founder of The Beauty Marketplace
Greg Shepard (SPS Graduate), Founder and CEO, BOSS Capital Partners
Ricardo Taveras (’18SPS, Enterprise Risk Management), Venture Capital & Private Equity Investor