On July 13, from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m., DifferenceMaker hosted Demo Day. At this event, the 2023 DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge Finalists presented their updated and improved ideas since advancing in the 2023 DifferenceMaker Summer Boot Camp.
Holly Lalos, Director, Rist DifferenceMaker Institute, opened up the event for the evening. To start, she presented to the audience a brief overview of the DifferenceMaker program. DifferenceMaker is a campus-wide program that helps students define problems and create real-life solutions to those problems.
One of the ways this is done is during the DifferenceMaker Summer Boot Camp. The objective of the Boot Camp is to increase teams’ understanding of their customer segments, business model, revenue streams, and more. Teams are also encouraged to develop a one-year project plan with milestones and tasks for utilizing their winning funds.
Holly thanked everyone who makes DifferenceMaker possible – faculty fellows, co-op students, mentors, and advisors. The Boot Camp Advisors this year were:
- Rajia Abdelaziz, CEO and Co-Founder of invisaWear (2016 DifferenceMaker Team), alumni from the Francis College of Engineering & Kennedy College of Sciences, ’16.
- Shirah Benarde, CEO and Co-Found of Nightcap
- Steve DeVries, Certified Business and Executive Coach of FocalPoint, alumni from the Manning School of Business ’98, ’09.
- Ray Hamilton, CTO and Co-Founder of invisaWear (2016 DifferenceMaker Team), alumni from Francis College of Engineering, ’16.
- Kevin Willett, Senior Adjunct Faculty and DifferenceMaker Faculty Fellow from the Manning School of Business, CEO of Friends of Kevin.
Then, thank you’s for the Boot Camp Guest Speakers were also made:
- Caitlin Fuentes, Associate Director of Student Affairs Financial Administration, alumni from the Manning School of Business, ‘14 ‘21.
- Ray Hamilton, CTO and Co-Founder of invisaWear, alumni from Francis College of Engineering, ’16.
- David Kantaros, Partner at Foley & Lardner LLP.
- Chris McKenna, Partner at Foley & Lardner LLP, alumni from the Francis College of Engineering, ‘89
- Shirah Benarde,CEO and Co-Found of Nightcap
- Brian Rist, Chairman & Founder of the Rist Family Foundation and Rist DifferenceMaker Institute, alumni from the Manning School of Business, ’77.
- Dave Vatalaro, Rist DifferenceMaker Fellow and Professor, Manning School of Business.
Demo Day helps teams advance their progress, gain critical feedback, and network with mentors. To begin the event, David Vatalaro, Rist DifferenceMaker Fellow, discussed mentor matching steps. Surveys for both mentors and teams were sent out shortly after the event. From the survey results, teams will be paired to the appropriate mentor(s) based on their backgrounds, skills, and interests.
David Vatalaro, Rist DifferenceMaker Fellow, explained the steps needed to be made for the mentor matching process.
Next, the event opened to student team presentations! Each team had 5 minutes to present, and 5 minutes for audience Q&A. They pitched about their business plans, customer discovery findings, value propositions, and benefit that their products/services would have for society. Potential mentors asked valuable questions to the teams throughout the evening.
The teams that presented were:
Thank you to everyone that attended Demo Day and supported the students throughout the night!