DifferenceMaker Demo Day 2023

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.

Holly Lalos, Director of Rist DifferenceMaker Institute welcomes guests to Demo Day and provides opening remarks.

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:

Then, thank you’s for the Boot Camp Guest Speakers were also made:

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.

Jeremy Hilton, from Team NeuroLyze, networking before the Demo Day presentations.
Julie Sage, from Team Innovation, speaking to potential mentors about her teams project.

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.

Nuno Mestre from Rent Scoop presenting on their idea.
Michael Ciampo and Matheus Fonseca from Catnap, 2023 Rist Campus Wide DifferenceMaker Award Winning team present their revised idea.
Haad Naeem, from Team Smart Azan, presenting information about his application.

The teams that presented were:





Quick Release Window Bars

Rent Scoop

Shared Vision/Vision House 

Smart Azan 

Solar Sails 


Sammy Santana, Rist DifferenceMaker Co-Op and Team Shared Vision / Vision House encouraging questions from the audience.
Mina Lam, Rist DifferenceMaker Co-Op and 2022 DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge finalist, networking with a mentor.
Two mentors networking before the start of Demo Day.
Members of the audience listening to the student teams present their ideas.

Thank you to everyone that attended Demo Day and supported the students throughout the night!

Here is a video of the 2023 DifferenceMaker Demo Day event.

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