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Contests, Awards & Prizes

Draper logo

The annual Draper Competition is designed to hone the skills that undergraduate women need to advance through the process from idea to venture creation. Through three rounds of competition, students demonstrate an understanding of a problem, why the problem requires a new venture to address it, how their idea presents the best solution to the problem, and what resources, partnerships and activities it takes to successfully launch the venture.



Grand Prize Winner - $25,000

Locker Lifestyle - Product Track #1
Katarina Samardzija '19, Grand Valley State University

Additional prizes: $10,000 scholarship to Draper University plus 2-day, all expenses paid trip to Tampa, FL for 2 sponsored by Embarc Collective and in-kind prizes from Hubspot for Startups, IndieDoGood and Shoobx

Track Winners - $10,000

  • KnoNap, Danya Sherman '19, George Washington University
  • Early Intervention Systems, Nathalya Ramirez '19, George Washington University
  • Tongo Wata, Hawa Tarawally AC'21, Smith College
  • LOU, Rachel Pardue '19, Babson College

Each of these teams will also receive a $5,000 scholarship to Draper University, and in-kind prizes from Hubspot for Startups, IndieDoGood and Shoobx

Runner's Up - $5,000

  • AZUZA Beverage (Cal State Polytechnic)
  • PainterPrinter (Hampshire College)
  • Afra Cafe (Smith College)
  • Strides (Oklahoma State University)
  • Prolitfic (University of Texas, Austin)

Each of these teams will also receive a $2,000 scholarship to Draper University

Honorable Mentions - $1,500

  • Raspberry Farm (Illinois Institute of Tech)
  • Neurochi Meditation (University of Idaho)
  • Spark (Smith College)
  • Informer (University of Oregon)
  • VELV (University of New Hampshire)

Fan Favorites - $500

  • Machai (Smith College)
  • Tress It Up (Smith College)
  • CulFood (Mount Holyoke College)
  • Tongo Wata (Smith College)
  • UniSell (Smith College)

Special Prizes

  • Western Mass Innovation Jam Prize ($500): Blink Tek (Western New England University)
  • Conway Center 5College Prize - 1st Place ($1,000): Let's Talk About It (UMass Amherst)
  • Conway Center 5College Prize - 2nd Place ($750): Willow Denim (Mount Holyoke College)
  • Conway Center 5College Prize - 3rd Place ($500): MassBoard (UMass Amherst)

2018 Draper Judges

2018 Judging Panel (l to r): Dawanna Williams '90, Mona Sinha '88, Kathleen Curley '72, Dr. Alan Robinson, Debby Farrington '72, Tim Draper and Melissa Parker Draper '77


SURPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT - The 2018 Draper Competition was held on a snowy Friday, April 6. The competing teams so impressed this year's judges that the competition sponsors -- Melissa and Tim Draper -- announced that the prize money awarded to the top 3 teams would be DOUBLED! In addition, all of the finalist teams were awarded $3,000 scholarships to Draper University.

Thank you to all of the members of the 2018 Selection Committee, faculty, staff and alumnae mentors at Smith College, faculty and staff mentors to all visiting teams, 2018 Draper Competition Planning Committee, CiEC Interns, and all the members of the Smith Community who made this year's event possible!

Of course, congratulations and good luck to all the student founders as they continue to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

See you in April 2019!


2018 Draper Competition - First Place

First Place - $20,000 + $10,000 scholarship to Draper University
Busy Beauty
Jamie Steenbakkers '18 and Michael Leahy '18 (not pictured), Babson College

2018 Draper Competition - Second Place

Second Place - $15,000 + scholarship to Draper University
The Forever Shower
Maria Horta Vorse '18, Alex Boatman '19 (not pictured) and Edward Hall '19 (not pictured), University of Idaho

2018 Draper Competition - Third Place

Third Place - $10,000 + scholarship to Draper University
Anmei Zhi '20, Nouhaila Norredine '20 and Elaona Lemoto '20, Smith College

2018 Finalists - $500

Alz You Need, Leda Rosenthal '18 (Colgate University)
Fida, Zoleka Mosiah '19 (Smith College)
HF Magnet, Samatha Farley '18 (West Virginia University)
Spin, Oumayma Koulouh '19 (Smith College)
Survival of the Fitted, Rachel Laflamme '20 (Smith College)
Therapalz, Fiona Kalensky '18 (University of Illinois)
Zapp Technology, Giovanna Jimenez '18 (University of Houston)


2018 Draper Competition - Fan Favorite

Fan Favorite - $1,000
The Lunch Buddy
Hannah Kelsey '20, Vivian Nelson '20, Haley Markos '20 and Frances Duncan '20, Smith College

2018 Draper Competition - Best App

Best App - $1,000
Brianna Moore '18 and Leigh Miller '18 (not pictured), Smith College

Conway Center Five-College Prizes

CIEC 5-College Prize Winner

First Place - $1,000
Duo Display - Kate Meacham '20 (Mount Holyoke College), Alessandra Massa '19 (Mount Holyoke College, not pictured) and Bryce Paquette '18 (Western New England University)

CIEC 5-College Prize Winner

Second Place - $750
Anchor - Romina Gupta '20 (Mount Holyoke College) and Abhinav Karthikeyan '20 (Boston College, not pictured)

CIEC 5-College Prize Winner

Third Place - $500
Painter Printer - Darleane Torres '21 (Hampshire College) and Joseph Mendoza '21 (Clarkson University)


Elevator Pitch Contest

90 SECONDS—the approximate time an investor gives you to convince them to take things to the next step where they can learn more about you and your idea. This is all the time students have to present business, product or service ideas to their peers, local entrepreneurs and a panel of judges. No props, just one 3x5 index card, 90 seconds, a great pitch and an even better idea! The winning pitch receives $100 and the right to represent Smith College at a regional competition in the spring, at which the first place is $1,000! Join us for dinner, some great ideas and a guaranteed evening of fun.

Fall 2019: Monday, November 18; 5-7p.m.

(dinner provided)


The 17th annual Elevator Pitch Contest, held on November 26, 2018, featured 13 brave students vying for the opportunity to represent Smith at the regional collegiate competition in April. The following 5 ideas were awarded monetary prizes:

  • Best Ask - $100
    Isabelle Hodge '20 (Sociology), MarketSpace

    Isabelle Hodge '20 (Sociology), MarketSpace

    (judges - l to r: Deborah Wijnhoven, Lazarus Center for Career Development; Susannah Howe, Engineering Design Clinic Director; and Rick Plaut, CIEC Entrepreneur-in-Residence)
  • Best "Green World" Ideas - $150 (each)
    Madeline Turner '21, Sprout
    Phoebe Little '20 (Government), Ugly Smoothies
    Madeline Turner '21, Sprout Phoebe Little '20 (Government), Ugly Smoothies

  • Biggest Impact Idea - $200
    Zoleka Mosiah '20 (Engineering), Afrobotics
    Zoleka Mosiah '20 (Engineering), Afrobotics

  • Best Pitch - $400
    Kelly Pien '20 (Economics), Safety Sister

    Kelly Pien '20 (Economics), Safety Sister
    Kelly will represent Smith at the regional collegiate pitch competition sponsored by the Grinspoon Foundation in April.

The 16th annual Elevator Pitch Contest, held in November 2017, featured Smith students vying for the opportunity to represent Smith at the regional collegiate competition in April. Three prizes were awarded:

Most Viable Venture Prize: $500
Katharina Geppert '19 and Rachel LaFlamme '20, Survival of the Fitted



Grinspoon Pitch Prize Prize: $300 + Representing Smith at Regional Competition
Jacqui Ritchie-Dunham '18, FitYes



Professional Pitch Awards 
Anmei Zhi '20 and Nouhaila Norredine '20, Rebike
Elizabeth Boahen '20, SchedulRing


Anmei and Elizabeth


Grinspoon Entrepreneurial Spirit Awards

Grinspoon logo

The Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative (EI) ecognizes collegians who demonstrate what philanthropist and successful entrepreneur Harold Grinspoon refers to as "the entrepreneurial spirit." The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation supports the EI by fostering entrepreneurship education among participating colleges and universities in the region. Each year the Foundation provides particpating schools with a pool of funds to distribute amongst students who demonstrate an entrepreneurial passion.

Fall 2019: Annual Grinspoon, Garvey and Young Entrepreneurship Conference

8 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., MassMutual Center (transportation provided)


Spring 2020: Annual Grinspoon EI Banquet

Students may self-nominate to receive an award in recognition of their entrepreneurial spirit. Awards are given to students at both the idea and revenue-generating phases. Awardees are required to attend the banquet held at the Log Cabin in Holyoke in April. 


This year the EI advisors, Susannah Howe and René Heavlow, awarded one spirit award and four concept awards to Smith students.

Spirit Award

Afra Cafe
Basira Daqiq '21 (Engineering)
Simin Saba Royesh '21J (Education & Child Study)

Concept Awards

  • Afrobotics
    Zoleka Mosiah '20 (Engineering)
  • Soul Doula
    Caitlin Sutherland '20 (Sociology)
  • We Story Tell
    Mirella Hernandez '19 (Statistical and Data Science)
    Dulce Ixcoy '19 (Government)
    Anna Quintanilla '19 (French Studies and Computer Science)
  • WikiConnects
    Wiktoria Leks '19 (Biochemistry)


    This year the EI advisors, Susannah Howe and René Heavlow, awarded one spirit award and three concept awards to Smith students.

    Spirit Award

    Survival of the Fitted
    Katharina Geppert '19 (Sociology)
    Rachel LaFlamme '20 (Statistical and Data Science)

    Concept Awards

    • Chic
      Farida Sabry '18 (Economics)
      Leen Ajlouni '18 (Economics)
      Neamat Sabry '21 (Computer Science)
    • Kinsfolk
      Kitty Chen '21 (Economics)
    • Baylasan
      Reem Ladadwa '18 (Art)
      Darpan Bohara '18 (Economics)

    Shark Tank

    Smith teams who have been selected to move on to the second round of the Draper Competition have an opportunity to perfect their pitches. Each team leader has 90 seconds to pitch to a room of mentors. Teams then receive feedback on ways to improve the content and quality of their presentation from the mentors.

    First Place: $500 
    Survival of the Fitted
    Rachel LaFlamme ’20 and Katharina Geppert ’19

    Second Place: $300
    Jane Lee ’19 and Cara Flores ’20

    Third Place: $200 

    Tress it Up
    Roli Dema ’21 and Desiri Dema ’21

    Joyce Huang ’22, Vivian Ma ’22 and Gin Chen ’22


    Gold winners - $250/team

    EcoImpact Tracker: Dayln Gillentine '21

    FitYes: Jacqueline Ritchie-Dunham '18, Maxine Ainetchi '18, Sasha Kolomatsky '18 and Julie Kim '19

    Survival of the Fitted: Rachel Laflamme '20 and Katharina Geppert '19


    Silver winners - $150/team

    Baylasan: Reem Ladadwa '18 and Darpan Bohara '18

    CommUNIcate: Andrea Olivera '19J, Jakqueline Granillo '19 and Janeth Mora-Martinez '21

    Marginalia Podcast: Temar France AC'18

    Smith Prize in Entrepreneurship

    The Conway Center sponsors monetary prizes in entrepreneurship open only to currently enrolled Smith students. Students are judged on the viability of the venture and the quality of their presentations. Winners are determined by combining scores from a written application and pitch to local business owners and investors.

    Prize List

    • Best Overall Venture: $2,500
    • Best S.T.E.A.M. Venture: $1,500
    • Best Sustainability Venture: $1,500
    • Best Social Venture: $1,500
    • Best Trade Show Exhibit: $1,000
    • The Atrevida* Prize for Best Pitch: $1,000
    • Brodsky Prize for Engineering Entrepreneurship: $1,000

    * Atrevida means "bold or fierce."

    Note: Judges for the Smith Prize in Entrepreneurship are not affiliated with the Draper Competition. Winning a Smith Prize in Entrepreneurship has no bearing on a Smith team’s status in the Draper Competition.

    Best Pitch - $1,000

    Jane Lee '19 and Cara Flores '20
    an online subscription database that connects and highlights creatives of color in the media, advertising and marketing worlds

    Best Trade Sow Exhibit - $1,000

    Tongo Wata
    Hawa Tarawally AC'21
    seeks to eliminate the consumption of contaminated water and improveaccess to clean water in villages in Sierra Leone

    Brodsky Prize for Engineering Entrepreneurship - $1,000

    Zoleka Mosiah '20
    aims to use emerging technologies to improve agricultural practices in South Africa and use its revenue to support technical after-school programs for local children from previously disadvantaged backgrounds

    Best Social Impact Venture - $1,500

    Tongo Wata
    Hawa Tarawally AC'21
    seeks to eliminate the consumption of contaminated water and improveaccess to clean water in villages in Sierra Leone

    Best S.T.E.A.M Venture - $1,500

    Soul Doula
    Caitlin Sutherland '20
    uses new technologies to address some of the pre-and post-birth complications faced by all Black women 

    Best Sustainability Venture - $1,500

    Joyce Huang '22, Vivian Ma '22 and Jingyu (Gin) Chen '22
    a mobile app that provides an efficient, organized, and sustainable system where college students can sell unwanted goods at affordable prices

    Best Overall Venture- $2,500

    Tress It Up
    Roli Dema '21 and Desiri Dema '21
    a fun and affordable wig company that empowers college women with the ability to increase their confidence, versatility while tackling their busy lifestyles in style

    On Saturday, March 31, the Conway Center held the third annual Smith Prize in Entrepreneurship (2-5p, Davis Ballroom). 16 Smith teams showcased their ventures to mix of faculty and staff mentord. Teams also pitched their business to a panel of judges: Maggie Liu (Economics), Borjana Mikic (Engineering) and Anika Penn '99 (cofounder, Frontier Health). Following is the list of prize winners*:

    Best Overall Venture - $2,500

    Baylasan: Reem Ladadwa '18 and Darpan Bohara '18


    Best Social Venture - $1,500

    Borderless: Joanna Okondo '18


    Best S.T.E.A.M Venture - $1,500

    Survival of the Fitted: Rachel Laflamme '20 and Katharina Geppert '19


    Best Sustainability Venture - $1,500
    ReBike: Anmei Zhi '20, Nouhaila Norredine '20 and Elaona Lemoto '20


    Best Trade Show Exhibit - $1,000

    Baylasan: Reem Ladadwa '18 and Darpan Bohara '18


    The Altrevida Prize for Best Pitch - $1,000

    Chic: Farida Sabry '18, Leen Ajlouni '18 and Neamat Sabry '21


    The Brodsky Prize for Engineering Entrepreneurship - $1,000

    The Lunch Buddy: Hannah Kelsey '20, Vivian Nelson '20, Haley Markos '20, and Frances Duncan '20


    *winning a S.P.I.E. prize has no bearing on a team's standing in the Draper Competition.


    A fun food-filled day for students to work on potential solutions to needs/problems. The day features an Idea Jam, team formation and preliminary idea/venture development. Materials are available for teams to prototype their ideas (create a Minimum Viable Product). Teams must also craft a two-minute business pitch.