Two computer science majors, senior Brian Blanco and sophomore Ashish Pandhi, won first place and a prize of $50,000 today to develop their business, an advanced social media management platform, in the second annual Hofstra-CPXi Venture Tech Challenge. The contest was sponsored by alumnus and Board of Trustee member Mike Seiman, the chief executive officer of CPXi.
The second-place prize of $20,000 went to Justin Philip Henneman, a fourth-year medical student at the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, whose idea improves upon ventriculoperitoneal shunting, a surgical procedure that removes excess cerebrospinal fluid from the brain. Three other teams won $10,000 apiece for their proposals as well.
“Hofstra is proud of all the students who competed in the Hofstra University-CPXi VentureTech Challenge and to the winners, congratulations and good luck as you take the next step in your journey as budding entrepreneurs,” said President Stuart Rabinowitz. “All of the student projects were highly sophisticated and very impressive; your future prospects are clearly very bright.This competition is an extraordinary opportunity for our students to get real-world experience about how to take an idea from the classroom to the boardroom.”
“It is especially fitting that it comes thanks to one of our own alumni, Mike Seiman, the CEO of CPXi, whose vision and generosity is inspiring a new generation of Hofstra innovators,” he added.
Ten teams in total vied for $100,000 in seed money to develop their technology-based projects in the CPXi Challenge, believed to be the most-funded student entrepreneurship contest in the nation.
The teams spent several months developing innovative ideas and this morning presented their projects, business plans, and market research to a panel of judges including CPXi officials, industry professionals and Hofstra faculty.
“We at CPXi offer our deepest congratulations to our winners and are both thrilled and gratified to be able to offer them the opportunity to advance their innovative business ideas,” said Seiman. “Industries can be changed almost overnight by one great idea and a leadership team with the guts to turn that idea into a reality. There are no prerequisites for entrepreneurship; all you need is a vision and the courage and work ethic to see it through. We saw those qualities in our winners and we look forward to witnessing the great things they go on to accomplish. We will continue to host this annual competition with Hofstra and hope it continues to inspire students and graduates to put in the work to see their career dreams come to fruition.”
Seiman, a computer science alumnus, co-founded CPXi while he was still a student at Hofstra University. The company, with annual revenue of more than $120 million, was included on Inc. magazine’s list of the fastest growing privately held advertising/marketing companies in 2008 and 2009, and Seiman was selected as a semifinalist in Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year initiative in 2009, 2010 and 2013.
This year’s competition included students from the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Frank G. Zarb School of Business, the Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of Health Sciences and Human Services, and the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.
Photo: First place winners in the 2014 CPXi Venture Tech Challenge receiving their prize from CPXi CEO Michael Seiman and Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz.