On the evening of November 18, David Chait ’13, co-founder and CEO of Travefy, took the runner up honors and a $5,000 cash prize in the “Get in the Ring: The American Startup Clash” competition hosted by The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City. The competition brought together entrepreneurs from around the world to compete for cash prizes. This was the first year the United States entered the international competition, which originated in 2009 at the Netherland’s Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship.
This year’s eight startup finalists represented the United States, Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. The contenders verbally brawled in a boxing ring to secure their investments in front of a live and webcasted audience of 500 cheering people. “It was an honor just to meet the other finalists, who are a diverse and inspiring group of entrepreneurs,” David said. “The Kauffman Foundation went above and beyond as competition hosts and provided all of the finalists with helpful training and community building throughout the weekend.”
Among the challengers were fellow Columbia entrepreneur Ally Downey ’10, founder and CEO of weeSpring.com. “From the moment I landed in Kansas City, I was blown away,” she said, “by the caliber of the companies competing, by the robust community local start-ups have cultivated through the Kansas City Start-Up Village, and by the incredible programs the Kauffman Foundation has in place to support entrepreneurs. The Silicon Prairie is giving the Alley and the Valley a run for its money!”
“As a Foundation committed to advancing the field of entrepreneurship, we were thrilled to bring the international Get in the Ring pitch competition to the United States,” said Wendy Guillies, vice president of communications at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. “We saw it as an opportunity to not only accelerate the success of the startups who competed, but also to educate audience members about the many contributions entrepreneurs make to the U.S. economy.”
A panel of five distinguished judges selected the U.S. champion and runner-up. In addition, audience members in attendance and watching the webcast were able to cast a vote for the night’s “audience favorite” award. “Our judges were impressed with all eight finalists. They recognized the business potential of Travefy and commented very favorably on David Chait’s pitch content and delivery,” Wendy added.
“The competition was an amazing experience and Travefy was extremely honored to be named runner up among such a talented group of entrepreneurs,” David said. “The prize money provides valuable working capital for Travefy as we continue to grow and expand our group travel collaboration tools.”
Steve Gilman '15
“To organize a robust community, sometimes you have to put walls around it,” says Steve Gilman ‘15 about his company, Block Party Suites.