Skip to content

Since its inception over a century ago, Duke University has been a beacon of innovation. This legacy persists as students continually explore novel ideas to create a positive impact on the world. Student ventures took center stage at Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship’s most exciting event of the year, The Duke Startup Showcase, where over 500 members of the entrepreneurial ecosystem gathered to witness the power of entrepreneurship at Duke. “It was amazing how the Startup Showcase brought investors, founders, and students to check out our startup. We got great insight and found terrific value in the event,” said Avihan Jain ’27 co-founder of Bern, a venture that provides tech and socialization for children through an AI teddy bear.

Sixty-one aspiring ventures applied to participate in the Showcase, with 36 making it to the quarterfinals and the chance to show off their ventures at event tables, 12 semifinalists pitching to a panel of distinguished judges a few weeks prior over Zoom, and six finalists winning more than $100,000 in non-dilutive prizes and earning the opportunity to present their pitches live to a captivated audience in Geneen Auditorium at the Fuqua School of Business. The evening also included the $5,000 “Best in Showcase” prize, determined by audience choice. Victor Yang MBA ’25, whose venture Sirrona aims to revolutionize cancer treatment, said, “My co-founder and I built great connections with investors and other professionals during the Showcase, which was meaningful for us.”

Behind the scenes of the Showcase, dedicated volunteers, including members of the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Board of Advisors, Duke alumni, and Triangle-area investors gave countless hours to ensure the event’s success. They meticulously evaluated each venture, assessing factors such as innovation, feasibility, and market potential. The global impact showcased throughout the event was striking, with ventures not only focused on markets in the United States but also in countries across Africa and Asia.”

The Startup Showcase prize-winning ventures were:

  • AHAV produces healthy snacks with simple ingredients and donates a portion of sales to the National Eating Disorder Association and No Kid Hungry - $10k Social Innovation Prize
  • Alleviate Health’s platform enhances medical offices and clinical trails through AI-driven scheduling and programs - $30k Borchardt Prize
  • Anon ID is a private and verifiable Web3 version of Face ID tailored for the gaming and entertainment ticketing industries - $10k Fuqua Fast Pitch Prize
  • Aurganics, a plant-powered solution to skin care, addresses the unique needs of melanin-rich skin - $10k Borchardt Prize
  • Betacare is revolutionizing healthcare in Sub-Saharan Africa, offering equitable health education, insurance, and medical services - $30k Graduate Student Prize and $6k Dean Yep, Jr. Prize 
  • Himayat provides a comprehensive HR management and employee benefits platform for domestic workers and their employers in India - $10k Graduate Student Prize
  • Styl offers a personalized shopping experience akin to Tinder - $5k “Best in Showcase” Prize (audience choice award)

Startup Showcase attendee Tobi Walter, Partner at Cofounders Capital, said, “The quality of ventures and pitches at Duke's Startup Showcase was unbelievable. I don't see better ventures, traction, or pitches from some of the serial entrepreneurs who we invest in. Seeing that quality in student ventures was incredibly inspiring!”

This showcase wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of Duke donors and champions of innovation. The encouragement of late Duke Professor Frank Borchardt inspired his student David Cummings ’02 to create a legacy gift that provides annual support to fund the prizes for the top undergraduate entrepreneurs. The Dean Yep, Jr. prize, established in memory of Dean Yep MBA ‘12, aims to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs who demonstrate Dean’s Team Fuqua spirit and attempt to reduce social boundaries through entrepreneurship.

Duke I&E Director Jamie Jones was delighted by the turnout and the quality of the event. “The Duke Startup Showcase highlighted that entrepreneurship is alive and well at Duke, and that the future is bright for Duke students and the world.” 

2024 Duke Startup Showcase Pitches on YouTube