Disease Diagnostic Group, maker of an inexpensive handheld device that can diagnose malaria in one minute, was named the winner of the 2014 Cupid's Cup Business Competition, a partnership between the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business and Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank.
In a last-minute twist to the ninth annual competition, Disease Diagnostic Group's founder, an engineering student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, accepted Plank's offer of an additional $25,000 in exchange for equity, bringing the company's grand prize winnings to $100,000. The equity will be held by Plank's Cupid Foundation, which funds the annual competition.
The $20,000 second place prize was awarded to Compology (co-founded by a University of Maryland alumnus), a company that makes a sensor and software system that tracks dumpster volume and reroutes waste pickup to increase hauler's margins by 50 percent. Another University of Maryland student-run company, Wheel Shields, placed third ($5,000 prize) with a longboard skateboard accessory that improves safety, blocks mud and enables skaters to perform more advanced tricks.
Joining Plank on the judge's panel were Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Recordings; Robin Thurston, founder and CEO of MapMyFitness; and Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice, co-founders of SoulCycle. Entrepreneur and former NFL player Dhani Jones also participated as emcee. The judges evaluated six finalists, narrowed down from a pool of 14 semifinalists who presented at Under Armour headquarters on February 20.
Disease Diagnostic Group also took home the $5,000 audience choice award, decided by text voting from the more than 1,000 people in the audience.
Rounding out the field of finalists were:
•Encore (Georgetown University) – a company that synthesizes social data in actionable, bite-sized alerts for marketers at leading brands.
•Kohana (The Johns Hopkins University) – maker of the Gala pump, a quiet, compact and discreet breast pump that allows women to pump anytime, anywhere.
•Million Dollar Scholar (Morehouse College) – an ed-tech social venture utilizing a web-based platform to educate high school/college students and ex-offenders on how to gain scholarships and avoid student debt.
Plank, a graduate of the University of Maryland, started the competition with the university's Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship to foster interest in student entrepreneurship. The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate-level students at accredited U.S. colleges and universities, and recent graduates of these institutions. For more information about the competition, please visit www.cupidscup.com.
April 10, 2014