News 2024: UMassD students win prizes at 10th annual Startup Weekend

News 2024: UMassD students win prizes at 10th annual Startup Weekend
UMassD students win prizes at 10th annual Startup Weekend

45 participants competed on 7 teams to present the best startup venture ideas

A student presents an idea for a startup venture in just 60 seconds.

From Friday, March 1 through Sunday, March 3, 45 participants engaged in the 10th annual Startup Weekend, hosted by UMass Dartmouth's Charlton College of Business and the College of Engineering at the Co-Creative Center in downtown New Bedford. The event, sponsored by Techstars, was free and open to the public and UMassD students of all majors.

After 11 initial ideas were presented on Friday night, each of the 45 participants joined 1 of 7 groups and divided responsibilities to bring a startup idea to life in just 54 hours.

Winning Ideas

"Kung Food Panda" took home first place with an idea to make the most out of the ingredients left in your kitchen by integrating Generative AI and data engineering to recommend a variety of recipes. Led by Thanay Murthy (MS in data science) the group included data science master's students Rutvi Gadre and Ishan Bhargava, as well as computer science master's student Pranav Nanaware. The team received a 3-month membership to Groundwork Fall River to help launch their idea.

"I'm so grateful for the opportunity we had to showcase our ideas this weekend," said Murthy. "Winning the challenge meant a tremendous validation of my long-standing belief in empathy-driven technology. This was only possible due to the diverse experience, commitment, and encouragement brought on by my team and mentors – specifically Professor Adnan El-Nasan!

"Participating in this weekend's startup challenge was a transformative experience, not just for our team's technical prowess but also for our personal development. As someone who has grappled with a fear of public speaking, this event provided an invaluable opportunity to confront and overcome these challenges head-on."

The winning team, Kung Food Panda, made up of UMassD students Thanay Murthy, Rutvi Gadre, Ishan Bhargava, Pranav Nanaware.

"Blood AI," a software service that provides easy-to-understand explanations of a patient's blood work, took home second place. Their team included Stephanie Beels, assistant vice president of Genpact in Boston, Uma Mahesh, a computer science master's student at Boston University, and UMassD computer science students Aakash Kardam (PhD) and Uday Reddy (master's). 

The third-place award went to "Claim Checker" – a software tool that uses crowdsourcing to validate news stories. Members of the team included Jeremy Pierce, Ryan Jones, Manoj Sankuru, and UMassD data science master's student Alisha Tak. 

"We want to give special thanks to the Co-Creative Center for hosting us," said Assistant Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship, Griffin Cottle. "We couldn't have asked for a better venue for this event. It's a great place for aspiring entrepreneurs to get their ideas off the ground, and the setting made for a great weekend."

Startup Weekend is a global event sponsored by Techstars, taking place in over 150 countries and comprising more than 428,000 participants. It has inspired more than 500 startups and 19,000 entrepreneurs.