CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — College students from across the Triangle competed on Sunday for an opportunity to receive a life-changing investment for their startup. Winning teams have a chance to get up to $500,000 of investment.
The competition happened for the first time Sunday afternoon at UNC-Chapel Hill, hosted by Triangle Ventures, a student-run organization that aims to connect business students with each other and resources necessary to help jumpstart their careers.
One of the winners was Sloane Tilley.
“Do you ever just like wake up and be like, ‘I don’t really know if my life is real right now?’ That’s sort of my life right now,” she said.
Tilley’s startup, named Dia, aims to provide at-home testing for chronic conditions to avoid the need to constantly go back and forth between doctors’ appointments.
She said the idea came to her when she found herself in that position after being hit by a car.
“Many of those jarring car rides, I realized that something in the U.S. healthcare system was broken. We’re able to monitor glucose at home, why can’t we measure other things?”
Her startup is one of seven receiving an opportunity to get investment from Fusen. The Georgia-based company provides funding to college entrepreneurs to help them get their businesses off the ground.
Sunday’s competition was the first time the company held an investment event in the United States off of Georgia Tech’s campus.
First-place finishers receive $25,000 now. They’ll get an opportunity to eventually increase that initial investment to $500,000 after hitting certain milestones and other criteria in the future.
“500k, you can, that’s a job. It’s life-changing. You have the opportunity to completely switch from the career that you’re in, into a completely new field, completely new lifestyle,” said Manas Takalpati, the co-founder of Triangle Ventures, the student-run organization that put on the competition.
“There’s just so much incredible opportunity to actually support students and empower them towards their ideas. I think this is just the beginning,” added Ilyas Colie, the other co-founder.
On top of the chance to receive investment dollars, the event was also an opportunity for business students to network with each other, while also getting some valuable feedback from the judges who ultimately decided the winners.
Colie says this isn’t just a great opportunity for students, but also the Triangle, which continues to see an explosion of business opportunities.
“Hosting this kind of event for undergrads and grads is really important. Almost a cultural side too, of like, showing people there’s an opportunity and that there’s a really incredibly supportive community in North Carolina that’s trying to help students, mentor them,” Colie said.
More than 250 teams applied to take part in the competition. Fifty semifinalists began their pitches Sunday afternoon before 15 moved on to the final round.