IMSA TALENT – Inspiring world changing startups
TALENT, IMSA’s flagship entrepreneur education program guides Illinois middle and high school students through the innovation process for new STEM business ventures. Young TALENT entrepreneurs benefit from the expertise of top-notch mentors, internships at leading startups, entrepreneurship workshops and games, summer camps, prestigious pitch competitions, IMSA’s 1871 membership, and the IN2 speakers series featuring key movers and influencers in the tech startup world.
TALENTED – highly interactive sessions that drive participant innovation from idea conception through all stages of business planning – from ideation to market research to branding with insights from entrepreneurs, lawyers, bankers, consultants, and outstanding IMSA alumni.
Power Pitch – a business idea pitch competition for 6-12th graders that promotes entrepreneurial thinking and presentation skills. Competitors pitch new STEM product and service ideas to investors for cash prizes.
TALENT Online – all of the benefits of TALENT mentoring in an innovative online format for students unable to travel to IMSA campus.
Notable startups that have come out of TALENT include:
FOSSA – Kevin Wang, founder. Kevin leveraged his connections from interning at Techstars to launch TL;DR (a service for open source developers) that got the attention of the Thiel Foundation. Kevin was named a Thiel Fellow in 2013 and used that experience to rename his business and raise $2,200,000 from Seed, Steve Chen and 6 other investors.
ReThink – Trisha Prabhu, founder. While in 8th grade, Trisha won first place at our Power Pitch competition with this idea, which then was called SiftThru. In 2016, after development and field testing, she raised $100,000 from two investors on SharkTank.
Omnipointment – Vinesh Kannan and Brendan Batliner launched their scheduling and time management software for schools as they graduated from IMSA in 2015. Omnipointment has many notable achievements, including being selected for the Straight Shot Startup Accelerator (Omaha, NE) in 2016 and a Future Founders Fellowship in 2017.
Convey (formerly Tweetsense) – William Widjaja, co-founder. While at IMSA, William pitched and won two contests with TweetSense, including Power Pitch and the MIT Enterprise Forum Whiteboard Challenge. Convey is software that measures the semantic content of Twitter posts with remarkably accurate results–it predicted Brexit and 2016 US Presidential elections. The company was accepted into the University of Illinois’ iVenture Accelerator and closed significant seed funding in October 2016. Named by Chicago Inno as a Top 10 Startup Set to Make Moves in 2017.
Power Pitch regional awards:
In 2017, the three highest ranking high school teams from our Power Pitch contest advanced to The Next Launch, a pitch competition hosted in Indiana. The IMSA teams took the three top prizes totaling over $17,000: Blabl (speech therapy avatar), Heat2Heal (body-heat activated pain relief for arthritis) and Flameless (fire prevention using sound waves).
- 25% of TALENT students launch their own startup or join a startup team
- 200 students per year in entrepreneurship learning
- Non-IMSA students may now participate with an IN2 TALENT Membership.