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Darla Moore School of Business

The Proving Ground entrepreneurial contest livestreaming April 21

April 14, 2020

The Moore School’s The Proving Ground pitch competition will feature six finalists in a Facebook Live video April 21 at 5 p.m. USC students, alumni, faculty and staff are encouraged to tune in to the live-pitch event, when the winners of the 11th annual competition will be determined.

With a chance to win up to $17,500 in prize money to accelerate innovative business concepts, The Proving Ground helps USC students and recent alumni begin their entrepreneurial ventures. Formatted similarly to the popular reality TV series Shark Tank, The Proving Ground’s original 53 entries this spring went through three rounds of judging by seasoned entrepreneurs, Moore School faculty members and past participants and winners of the competition. The result is two finalists for the Maxient Innovation Track and the Caliber Discovery Track. Those finalists will compete for the first-place prize of $17,500 and second prize of $5,000 in each track. The two plans which scored the highest in the Maxient Innovation Track and the Caliber Discovery Track but did not make the finals will face off in the SCRA/Fluor Fan Favorite Track and will compete for a first-place prize of $6,000 and a second prize of $3,000. The audience will vote to determine the winner in that category.

Representing the Maxient Innovation Track, In a Flash by junior entrepreneurship major Preston Headden is a photography expedited service that allows users to choose their photographer while the company will edit and process photos for a faster turnaround for customers and less hassle for the photographers. The other Maxient competitor, parAnimo, founded by information science senior Jonah Rotholz and senior advertising major Nick Jeffcoat, helps to pare down customer costs for purchasing solar panels for their homes by providing a more efficient process for narrowing prospective buyers. 

For the Caliber Discovery Track, Sectorgen by 2017 international business and marketing alumnus Raphael Tosti seeks to more easily pair gas turbine parts offered by multiple vendors with an online marketplace to assist power plants in more quickly and economically finding the tools they need. The second competitor by 2015 management science alumnus Munir Tawfique is Demeter, which is a mass-screening farming tool using drones and computer vision to determine which crops and plants are diseased to further prevent its spread to surrounding areas.

For the SCRA/Fluor Fan Favorite Track, Kiddiewallet by MBA student BinBin Weng and computer science Ph.D. candidate Xianshan Qu promotes financial literacy through an engaging application that educates children about money through interactive gaming. The other competitor is Ally B. Organics by junior chemical engineering major Alexis Lewis and senior marketing and management major Tiffany Neckles that manufactures organic health and beauty products that each include six ingredients or less. 

Learn more about The Proving Ground and each of the finalists.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.