two winning students hold up a giant check

Written by Nick Moroz, Director of Entrepreneurial Practice at the CFE.

Modeled after ABC’s famous Shark Tank, MPowered students conducted their own version of the pitch competition featuring a lineup of impressive student-led startup projects.

With support from the CFE, MTank Director Samantha Jayasundera (Electrical Engineering ‘26) and her team executed the event first piloted by MPowered last year. The MTank team fielded more than 40 submissions from student teams, which were assessed by the MTank student team. 11 semifinalists were then paired with six professional entrepreneurial mentors from around the nation. Ultimately, five projects were chosen to present on 3/15 in the late afternoon at the Central Campus Classroom Building. 

two students smile with their Amazon gift card they received for participating in the competition.

“It was really exciting to see hundreds of people come together from around Ann Arbor to support Michigan-founded startups and celebrate the passionate entrepreneurship community at UofM.” – Samantha Jayasundera (Electrical Engineering ‘26), MTank Director.

In front of an audience of more than 100, the five teams pitched a judging panel on their venture, highlighting the innovative use of technology and commercialization plans. The teams were scrutinized by Seb Lounis (Physics and Philosophy, ‘07), Head of People at Antoro Energy, Sonali Vijayavargiya, Founder and Managing Partner at Augment Ventures, and Mitch Rhode (Electrical Engineering ‘94 & ‘96 and Biomedical Engineering ‘97 and ‘99), CEO and Founder of Quantum Signal AI.

The judges provided constructive feedback and offered insightful questions regarding the revenue models, scaling strategies, and quality of presentations. Their task, in choosing the first, second, and third-place teams, was not easy by any means.

After all the presentations, deliberations, and a poll of the audience, the winners were announced:

1st Place ($2,500): AccoAI, an AI-enabled workspace for accounting.

2nd Place ($1,250): MinaRosa, a new wellness device that helps prevent and heal Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s), along with other reproductive health benefits. 

3rd Place ($500): CommunityConnect, AI-generated place-based learning curriculum and high-quality user experiences for local 6th-12th grade science teachers.

Audience Choice ($75 gift card): NeoNest Global, an affordable, non-electric neonatal bassinet incubators to combat neonatal hypothermia.

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