Budding Entrepreneurs Win Cash Prizes at 2024 New Venture Competition

NVC awards more than $330,000 to winners, including $157,000 in cash, for the nationally recognized competition now in its 16th year.

April 15, 2024

GW Business junior Camryn Baum celebrates with a first-place check after she and her team won the Consumer Goods and Services Track at Thursday's 16th annual New Venture Competition. (Photos by Rick Reinhard/For GW Today)

Innovative George Washington University students and young alumni earned thousands of dollars’ worth of prize money for their startup visions Thursday night as finalists of the nationally recognized New Venture Competition, the flagship event put on by the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

After pitching to judges during the third and final round of competition the day before, the finalists of the four vertical tracks, in addition to a track for those just getting their feet wet in entrepreneurship, presented their innovative ideas in an awards show at Jack Morton Auditorium. Winners were then presented with large checks representing money that will help them further transform their ideas into market products. 

School of Engineering and Applied Science doctoral students Vikas Soni and Anmol Taploo won the most prize money at $19,000, as they won a top $10,000 prize for the Health Care & Life Sciences Track, another $5,000 for Best Prototype and $4,000 for winning the Spirit of NVC Award. 

They pitched a plasma medicine technology—which they called JivaJet, by Brave Scientific—that addressed the challenges of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in veterinary healthcare. The device uses cold atmospheric plasma to target and eliminate the antibiotic resistant bacteria on the skin by generating free radicals that target the DNA and cell membrane of the bacteria. 

“It’s a new dawn in veterinary medicine, offering a lifeline to our cherished pets,” they stated, as Taploo has a cat named Precious that was part of their storytelling effort.  

A total of 192 teams participated in this year’s NVC, the 16th time it has been held since its inaugural competition in 2009. Finalists Thursday emerged from the 116 teams who made it on to the semifinals. The awards ceremony included presentations from 12 finalists across all four vertical tracks. The three winners who emerged from the nine Explorer Track finalists were also announced. First place in the four vertical tracks won $10,000, second place $7,500 and third place $5,000. In the Explorer Track, first place won $1,500, second $1,000 and third $500. 

All 10 GW schools had teams in the competition this year, and participation was up 20% from 2023.  This is a particular point of pride for Director of Student Entrepreneurship Kate Heath, M.B.A. ‘10, who has an oft-stated commitment to cross-campus inclusivity when it comes to OIE’s programming.  

“Not only were all 10 schools represented, but nine of them were in the finals and took home major awards, including teams from GSEHD, Nursing and Corcoran–schools where ‘entrepreneurship’ is not a common topic,” Heath said. “It just goes to show that at GW, innovation truly lives everywhere.”

GW medical student Abhisri Ramesh’s venture, A.Eye, earned the second most prize money on the night, topping out at $17,500. She won second place in the Health Care & Life Sciences Track, in addition to taking home the $10,000 CirrusLabs Best Tech Venture prize. A.Eye is a medical platform for ophthalmologists that provides advanced diagnostic assistance and streamlines image interpretation workflows by leveraging predictive and generative AI algorithms.

A.Eye builds off her product that won second place in the same track at last year’s NVC, called MediMint, that focused primarily on streamlining medical imaging. Her pitch for A.Eye was that it could help detect age-related macular degeneration at an earlier stage and prevent sudden loss of sight. 

Having worked on this idea since she arrived at GW in fall 2022, and being able to hone it ever since, Ramesh has been grateful for the support at OIE, especially the Mentors-in-Residence program.

“When you step into the entrepreneurship space for the first time, I think one of the biggest questions is just figuring out what your next step should be,” Ramesh said. “Having that support of them directing your vision and thinking about those next steps has been really, really helpful.”

The team of GW Business juniors Camryn Baum, Laura Sofia and Joanna Destil, in addition to Columbian College of Arts and Sciences senior Sofia Bertini and Milken Institute School of Public Health sophomore Brooke Moses, also built on a venture started in 2022 as the group won first place for the Consumer Goods and Services Track, in addition to the Best Market Assessment specialty prize, winning a total of $15,000. 

Their product, Adjust-A-Bra, is a redesign of the modern-day sports bra that aims to minimize the financial and societal cost of women’s size fluctuations through aspects of adjustability. Adjust-A-Bra is the first product of their bigger brand, EveryActive. 

Baum is the lone remaining original member of the same venture that won top prize in the New Venture Track of the 2022 Pitch George Competition. 

GW Engineering students Ammar Kamaruszaman, Rigel Brown, Taylor White, Nicolo Kreuger and Treesta James won top prize for Social Innovation and the Best Financial Understanding Category Prize, totaling out at $15,000. 

Their initiative, called Engineering Horizons, allows for GW engineering students to volunteer within the local community and foster space for eighth-grade students within D.C. Public Schools to widen their perspectives within STEM by providing science tutoring. 

“The problems are rooted within historical and systemic inequities,” Kamaruszaman said. “As college students, what can we do to help?”

As they have found out, a lot, in fact. And the financial boost on Thursday will strengthen the answer for that question. 

Former GW men’s swimming and diving teammates Karol Mlynarczyk and Dylan Koo, both seniors, and Youssef Ragab, B.B.A. ’21, M.S. ’22, earned top prize in the Business Goods and Services Track for their venture called In-Locator, an app that would make the in-store journey individualized through tailored-shopping and mapping. They are especially proud to have come together from across the world–Koo from Singapore, Mlynarczyk from Croatia and Ragab from Egypt—to create this app and hope they inspire others at the university.

“To our fellow Revolutionaries out there, remember that the world is yours,” Ragab said. “Go and fight for your dreams.” 

GW Business M.B.A. candidate Kunal Bagre won the coveted People’s Choice Award, a $7,500 prize decided on by an online vote for “fan favorite,” for his venture called Immersiview, which would give users an opportunity to experience live events from their own space through a VR headset. 

School of Nursing student Marguerite Rowell won the Explorer Track award for her venture Nurse Math LLC, an app that addresses the absence of financial education in nursing programs and offers step-by-step calculations for healthcare and business formulas. 

New to this year’s competition was corporate sponsor NextEra Energy, who created the Innovation in Sustainability prize.

Learn more about NVC, this year's teams, and how you can get involved.