Velocity alums win $40,000 in pitch contest for Alumnify

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Velocity-accelerated company Alumnify took home $40,000 last week when they won the third annual University of San Diego Venture Vetting (V2) Pitch Deck Competition. It was the largest prize ever awarded at the competition.

Alumnify founders AJ Agrawal and Eghosa Aihie initially participated in the Velocity Accelerator with GreekPull, a company that was going to be a Kickstarter for Greek organizations.

But after the Velocity program, the founders decided to pivot. They used the knowledge they had gained working with universities to create Alumnify, an app that links you to other like-minded, nearby college grads for networking and social connections.

Currently Alumnify is at the T Minus 6 accelerator at the University of South Carolina. According to the Tminus6 website:

Tminus6 is a public/private venture powered by a fantastic collaboration between USC’s Startup Center, CETi, the USC/Columbia Technology Incubator, and a group of local tech entrepreneurs and investors. We love technology, innovation, design, and building scalable, successful businesses.

We heard the news about the $40,000 prize on Twitter this weekend and reached out to Alumnify for an update.

V2-AlumnifyInsider Louisville: Tell us about the pitch competition you won.

AJ Agrawal: The V2 competition is a pitch contest held every year by the University of San Diego. Over time, it has developed into one of the largest events on campus and a huge proving ground for startup ideas.

Last year’s winner went on to raise over $800,000 of funding. This year was the hardest year to win yet. Over 60 teams applied, and the amount of funding doubled in the contest.

After competing in the final four this past Thursday, we won the grand prize and walked away with $40,000 out of a total of $50,000 that was invested. It was a huge win for us and very shocking. No team has won by that margin before, so as you can imagine we were stunned and excited at the same time.

Because our company started at USD, it means a lot for us to say that we are backed by my own alma mater. The funding will be used to help gain more clients, continue to develop our product, and ensure that we are creating the best experience possible for our university clients.

We were also introduced to a lot of angel investors and venture capitalists afterwards, so we know how much winning the V2 competition will help us down the road besides the funding.

Have you set down roots anywhere?

AA: Currently, we are in South Carolina as a participant at the T Minus 6 start-up Accelerator. We have seen some great progress so far at our time in Columbia, S.C. One of the big advantages is that we are able to work very closely with the University of South Carolina, which has been fundamental in our learning about our customers’ problems. Additionally, we’ve been helped by a great group of mentors who specialize in the university space.

We will be enrolled in the program until the end of July, however, we have not committed to a specific location where we will be setting up shop after the program ends. Most likely, we will wait to have a final answer to this until the beginning of June.

We last talked in October. What else is new with the business? 

AA: We’ve been able to add eight university clients, raised over $100,000 in funding, and continued to refine our value proposition. Additionally, we’ve really been able to grow our team, bringing development completely in house, and filling in team members to help solve our weaknesses. (Alumnify has four new team members.)

By switching to the university space rather than just fraternities and sororities, we’ve seen much greater progress. Our mobile application is currently being reviewed for the Apple Store, and we plan to launch our first marketing campaign with our first university client in the next month.

Finally, when you do plan on coming back to visit?

AA: We hope to come back sometime this summer. Indiana is still one of our options where we could  set up shop, and we are still very active in keeping Tony Schy updated on our status and where we plan to take the company in the future.

Although we’ve pivoted from our idea, we never would be where we are today if it wasn’t for the mentorship we learned while at Velocity.

Also, I told Tony multiple times that I would come back and visit once he starts filling the Velocity keg with Blue Moon.