Recapping Future Fest

March 10, 2022

On March 3rd, the Close School of Entrepreneurship hosted its shortened version of Startup Fest, Future Fest. This day-long event brought together students, staff, alumni, and entrepreneurs from the Philadelphia community. The day was packed with pitch presentations, informative panels, and a whole lot of networking!

To kick off the event, Graphite GTC hosted the Idea Accelerator Pitch Competition. The competition featured a fast pitch allotting each student 3 minutes to present their business, app, or idea to a panel of judges. The students who took part in the competition were all part of the Idea Accelerator course, T-280, where they had the chance to develop an idea during the 10 week course using Graphite’s low code platform. The pitch presentations featured so many great and well thought out ideas; with the low code technology from Graphite, the students were able to build apps for their companies quickly, and with no coding experience at all. After much deliberation, the judges picked three winners which included:

1st Place: Amanda Shmidt, Breez

2nd Place: Doug Libby, DigMouth

3rd Place: Clarence Smith, GoToTeks

While the Idea Accelerator Pitch Competition was taking place, the Proving Ground showed off the entrepreneurial community at Drexel with 12 different booths set up in the lobby of the Pearlstein Building. With students selling and showcasing their art, clothing, and much more, there was no shortage of networking opportunities throughout the day at Future Fest.

Following the morning’s pitch presentations, proving ground expo, and lunch provided by Graphite GTC and Archetype Solutions Group, students headed up to Baiada Institute for a workshop with Univest to learn about banking for startups. During this presentation, students learned about different types of banking solutions for all types of businesses and corporations. The presentation was very informative and allowed students to ask questions throughout which helped turn the presentation into a conversation. The presenter, David Cotto, from Univest had all the right answers for the students who asked some really great questions!

Just after the Univest Workshop, three students had a chance to earn some cash prizes during the game, What’s My Line, where they asked yes or no questions to the alumni panelists to figure out what industry each worked in. The What’s My Line game was a fun way to split up the day and opened up a conversation between the alumni panelists and the audience. Right after the fun game, the alumni panel began, which was moderated by Chuck Sacco, and included alumni Jedidiah Weller, CEO of Startup Wars, Inc., Nicole Haddad, Owner/Fashion Designer at Lobo Mau, Jiji Thomas, a Restaurateur and Owner of Lilly’s Authentic Indian Cuisine. During the panel, they discussed finding their passion, what it’s like to run a business, and gave tips on how to best utilize time as a student at Drexel. As Jedi said, “what you are doing after hours and in class is networking, I never took it seriously when I was in college, and I wish I did! There were thousands of people I met during my 5 year program that I wish I kept up with. All of business is about who you know and how you can help each other, it’s about relationships”. Nicole also had some great advice for students saying, “finding out what you don’t want to do can sometimes be as valuable as finding out what you do want to do… it’s all information that can help you make decisions about your future choices”. All three of the alumni panelists had great advice for the students and are great examples of how Drexel graduates are using what they learned to become successful entrepreneurs.

Capping off the day’s festivities at Future Fest was the practice round of pitches for the Drexel Startups Fund. The Drexel Startups Fund is a program and competition that provides support to students for their startup ventures. With up to $50,000 available to winners, fund awardees will also have access to mentorship, incubator space, and introductions to angel and venture capital funding from the university’s alumni network.

After a day filled with great student pitch presentations, alumni panelists, games, networking and more, it’s safe to say Future Fest was a hit! 

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