Female-led teams of student entrepreneurs won first and second place in the IMSA TALENT Power Pitch competition, which was held at 1871 in Chicago on Tuesday, April 29. 13-year-old Trisha Prabhu’s anti-bullying software SiftThru won first place in the annual competition, which comes with a $3,000 prize to help start her business.
There were many other impressive startups in the competition held by the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA), which has produced the co-founders of tech companies such as YouTube and Paypal. ReWrite, a glove that helps arthritis sufferers hold pens without joint pressure, won second place and $2,000 for a group of IMSA female entrepreneurs, and Anvil, a web service that allows tech companies to react quickly to customer feedback, came in third and won $1,000.
“It's so inspiring to see Trisha turn her idea into a product, then stand up at 1871 in front of a room of prominent business leaders and astonish them with her passion and knowledge,” IMSA President Catherine C. Veal said of winner Trisha Prabhu, who started coding at the age of 10. “Our IMSA TALENT program gives entrepreneurial teens, including girls, the skills, coaching, and confidence to forge their own paths, start their own science and technology businesses, and successfully market them. The results of Power Pitch, and what all our finalists demonstrated, are proof of this.”
A panel of distinguished judges from the Chicago business and tech community presided over the competition, which included Steven Collens of the Pritzker Group, Michael Krasny of Sawdust Investment Management Corp., Jeff Papa of JPMorgan Chase, Lance Pressi of FinnAllye Productions, and Molly Rudberg-Lesnock of Molly Rudberg, LLC.
Power Pitch is the culminating event of IMSA TALENT, the science, mathematics, engineering and technology (STEM) entrepreneurship program at IMSA that helps students at the residential academy and throughout Illinois take a concept from idea to startup. The Power Pitch program was generously supported by Chase, with the entrepreneurial hub 1871 providing the competition venue in Chicago's Merchandise Mart.