Carnegie Mellon University
McGinnis Venutre Competition Final Round

McGinnis Venture Competition

The McGinnis Venture Competition, a platform exclusively for Carnegie Mellon University's community of student entrepreneurs, brings together Carnegie Mellon's best and brightest student entrepreneurs to compete for $60K in investments. All participants receive crucial interaction with alumni entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, an opportunity to raise capital and valuable feedback about ventures.

This multi-round competition kicks off in early January, starting with two virtual rounds and culminating in a final live round celebration at Carnegie Mellon University.

Direct any questions to Allyson Hince.

McGinnis 2020 Logo

The 2020 McGinnis Venture Competition registration opened on Friday, November 1, 2019. The Round 1 submission deadline is on Wednesday, Janurary 22, 2020 via our online platform. Teams registered by Monday, December 2, 2019 are guaranteed to be assigned a coach for the competition; for those who register after December 2, 2019, we cannot guarantee a coach assignment.

The final round pitches were held on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

McGinnis 2020 Winners

Congratulations to our 2020 Winners!

Graduate Track

First Place: Aruga Technologies is a medical device company that integrates a new nature-inspired, surface technology into the design of synthetic vascular reconstruction devices. Team includes Joseph Pugar.

Second Place: Fibulas freezes time, not just your samples. Team includes Xiaotian Ma and Ying Pan.

Third Place: Sparkline is a Proptech startup which uses computer vision and predictive AI to monetize excess parking capacity. Team includes Vai Viswanathan and Max Henkart.

Undergraduate Track

First PlaceAgot provides analytics and self-service checkout for food service brands with our deep learning enabled AI. Team includes Alex Litzenberger and Evan DeSantola.

Second PlaceSwaset is an everyday clothing rental/sharing app based platform where users who value variety, quality, convenience, and savings can build their closet. Team includes Shadie Ellington, Anthony Attipoe, Adriana Pink, Evangeline Mensah-Agyekum and Seth Setse.


Thank you to our 2020 sponsors


alicia and jerry mcginnis

The McGinnis Venture Competition is made possible by a generous endowment from Gerald E. McGinnis, founder of Respironics.

Prize Allocation

Brian Porter

Graduate Track

First Place


Second Place


Third Place




The Graduate track first place winner will be awarded a 1 year free membership to Aspire360 and admission into a CEO cohort. As a member of the cohort you have access to dedicated peer coaching, coach curated microlearnings and 360-degree assessments and reports. This deep inquiry and understanding helps find the root causes to your startup’s biggest issues, followed up with low-bias, high-fidelity answers to your toughest questions.

Your coaches will include:

  • Ed Engler: Ten-time founder or co-founder, multi-fund manager and super angel, Ed focuses on coaching teams and building value-added capital around great founders and markets.
  • Eleanor Haglund: Multi-award winning, 3-time CEO who excels at communication and culture, Eleanor focuses on bringing out compelling narratives and is an MBA candidate at Columbia Business School.


Glow Up

Undergraduate Track

First Place


Second Place



Undergraduate track winners are also awarded a place in the CMU Venture Challenge.

photo of McGinnis winners

*Investments are awarded in the form of a convertible note. The remaining $3,500 will sponsor the CMU Venture Challenge.

Plus Get

McGinnis judges


The competition includes coaches for each team that declares participation in the McGinnis Venture Competition via our online platform. The Swartz Center staff will match the appropriate team with an appropriate coach. If a team is not registered by the deadline the Swartz Center cannot guarantee that a coach will be assigned.

McGinnis networking

Networking Opportunities

Meet and interact with peers who are also passionate about entrepreneurship, and gain access to Carnegie Mellon’s amazing entrepreneurial alumni network. Teams from all rounds enjoy access to exclusive networking events.

Little Moochi

Help Along the Way

CONNECTS events are held throughout the year to help teams prepare.

TalkMeUp Logo

TalkMeUp is an AI based software focused on communication training. During McGinnis final preparation, TalkMeUp will be availalbe to teams that make it to the third round of the competition. It is your on-demand smart mentor to help you practice and improve your investor presentation, and make sure you are ready to impress the audience and judges!

Here are a few video resources that we suggest to help with your video pitch: 

Important 2019-20 Dates and Deadlines

Fri, Nov 1, 2019

Registration opens. 
View competition application requirements: Executive summary [pdf] and video pitch constraints via the Swartz Center website.

Mon, Dec 2, 2019

Register to receive a coach. If you register via our online platform by this date, you will be guaranteed to be assigned a coach for the rest of the competition. For those who register after this date we cannot guarantee that you will be assigned a coach for the competition.

Wed, January 22, 2020

Round 1 submission deadline at 11:59 pm EST.
 Round 1 executive summary [pdf] and video pitch due via our online platform.

Thurs, January 23, 2020

Round 1 judges can view team’s applications at 5 pm EST.

Tues, February 4, 2020

Round 1 judging ends at 11:59 pm EST.

Wed, February 5, 2020

Teams notified. Round 2 begins at 5 pm EST.

Wed, February 19, 2020

Round 2 submission deadline at 11:59 pm EST.
 Round 2 updated executive summary [pdf] and video pitch due.

Thurs, February 20, 2020

Round 2 judges can view team’s applications at 5 pm EST.

Tues, March 3, 2020

Round 2 judging ends at 11:59 pm EST.

Wed, March 4, 2020

Teams notified. Round 3 Begins at 5 pm EST.

Tues, March 17, 2020

Round 3 Mini-Business Plan [pdf] due at 11:59 pm EST.

Wed, March 18, 2020

Round 3 judges can view team’s applications at 5 pm EST.

Tues, March 24, 2020

For the safety of our students and community, the Swartz Center has decided to hold the McGinnis Venture Competition virtually only for the teams and final round judges.

Unfortunately, the event will not be live streamed or made available for public viewing.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding.

Requirements & Guidelines

The McGinnis Venture Competition is open to all current Carnegie Mellon University undergraduate and graduate students who have created, managed and owned ventures.

A CMU student should be CEO, CTO or COO. Members of the student team should also own a significant majority of the equity allocated to all parties. Non-CMU students may be members of the venture’s management team and may participate; however, current CMU students should deliver the majority of the content in all of the rounds.

How to determine which track you are competing in:

  • If you have all undergraduate students on your team you will be considered in the undergraduate track.
  • If you have all graduate students on your team you will be considered in the graduate track.
  • If your team is made up of both graduate and undergraduate students you will be considered in the graduate track. You will not be eligible to compete in the undergraduate track.

**Please note that you will upload your Executive Summary and Video Pitch on our online platform.**

Deliverable: Executive Summary and Video Pitch*

The Executive Summary must be 3-5 pages in length. Please use the Executive Summary/Mini-Business Plan [pdf] for guidance.

A 5-minute Video Pitch targeted to investors is also required. You should pretend you are pitching to real investors and include all pertinent information. Record your Video Pitch and insert a Vimeo link on our online platform.

The Executive Summary and Video Pitch must be submitted on our online platform.

The application submission deadline is Wednesday, January 22, 2020 at 11:59 pm EST via our online platform.

*If you need to borrow video equipment to make your video, visit Clusters Multimedia Lending.

**Please note that you will upload your updated Executive Summary and Video Pitch on our online platform as you did in Round 1.**

Deliverables: Updated Executive Summary and Video Pitch*

Submit via our online platform an updated Executive Summary and Video Pitch (Vimeo). Use the feedback that you received from Round 1 to improve.

Watch an example pitch from Neon Labs.

The Round 2 submission deadline is Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at 11:59 pm EST via our online platform.

*If you need to borrow video equipment to make your video, visit Clusters Multimedia Lending.

**Please note that you will upload your Mini Business Plan/Expanded Version of Executive Summary on our online platform as you did in Round 1 and 2.**

Deliverables: Mini Business Plan/Expanded Version of Executive Summary and Live Pitch

We suggest that you use the Executive Summary/Mini-Business Plan[pdf] as guidance when creating your business plan, which should be 5-10 pages. You can add additional information to your business plan.

Sample successful mini-business plans from some of our 2013 winners: Lumator [pdf] and Playpower Labs [pdf].

The mini-business plan submission deadline is Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 11:59 pm EST via our online platform.

The live presentations are varied based on the graduate and undergraduat tracks.  Graduate tracks are 8 minutes long followed by 7-minute Q&A from the judges, and undergraduate tracks are 6 minutes long followed by 6-minute Q&A from the judges. Time limits are strictly enforced. The live round will be held at Carnegie Mellon University on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

The authors of the executive summaries and mini business plans will retain all rights to the executive summaries and mini business plans regarding its use at all times prior to and following the competition except as stated below. Due to the nature of the competition, we will not ask judges, reviewers, staff or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure statements for any participant.

All public sessions of the competition, including, but not limited to, oral presentations and question/answer sessions, are open to the public at large. Any and all of these public sessions may be broadcast to interested persons through media that may include radio, television and the internet. Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by entrants should be considered information that will likely enter the public realm, and entrants should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged or presented in these sessions.

Carnegie Mellon University may make photocopies, photographs, videotapes and/or audiotapes of the presentations including the business plan and other documents, charts or material prepared for use in presentation at the McGinnis Venture Competition. Students retain all proprietary rights. The university may use the materials in any book or other printed materials and any videotape or other medium that it may produce, provided that any profits earned from the sale of such items is used by the university solely to defray the costs of future competitions. The university has non-exclusive world rights in all languages, and in all media, to use or to publish the materials in any book, other printed materials, videotapes or other medium, and to use the materials in future editions thereof and derivative products.

View our judging guidelines

View our coaching guidelines