The much-anticipated culmination of months of hard work and innovation arrived as the Summer Founder's Demo Day took center stage at the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center on August 17. Summer Founders, UD’s pre-accelerator for students, is a 12-week program designed for students with early stage startups to work on their ventures and receive a stipend, mentorship and education sessions. To cap off a summer of innovation and learning, entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts gathered for an occasion filled with excitement and anticipation. The atmosphere was charged with a palpable energy, as the spotlight shifted onto the cohort of startups that had undergone an intensive acceleration journey.
The event kicked off with a networking reception, where the Summer Founders showcased their ventures from booths as they interacted with intrigued investors and entrepreneurs, as well as friends, family, and peers who came to support. After the networking session began to wind down, the event moved to the pitch room, where the Horn Entrepreneurship's’ Vince DiFelice welcomed everyone and shared about the unique ability and drive of the cohort members he worked with for the last three months. This set the tone for what was to come – a showcase of groundbreaking ideas and cutting-edge solutions.
The startups, having honed their pitches through rigorous mentoring and coaching, stepped onto the stage one by one, ready to present their innovative concepts to a captivated audience. Presentations started off by Summer Founders alums Sam Goetz and Garrison Davis, who shared their own businesses and the progress they had attained since graduating from the program themselves. Following the alumni pitches, a video recapping the cohort’s past months in the VDC played, showing them hard at work and speaking about the program. Finally, the cohort members each took the mic, pitching their ventures and showing the great potential for growth in each of the young businesses.
Each presentation was a testament to the diversity of ideas fostered within the Summer Founder's ecosystem. From solutions for those suffering from chronic health issues to automotive content brands, the startups spanned a wide spectrum of industries, united by their shared ambition to disrupt and make a positive impact. Audience members keenly listened, notably conscientious of the fact that the next big thing may spawn from the innovators within the room.
The 2023 Summer Founders’ Pitches
Ahmad Hazzaa, marketing major, Class of 2023
AllOne is a marketing agency specializing in developing and implementing effective marketing strategies for small and medium-sized businesses.
Heather Stroili, entrepreneurship major, Class of 2023
Full-Time Fit is addressing the challenge of staying fit and healthy while working full-time.
Samantha McGhee, entrepreneurship and fashion management double major, Class of 2025
Miss Boulevard is a loungewear brand that has a focus on mental health, self-care, and community. Through apparel collaborations, Miss Boulevard works to give back to charitable organizations that stand for a good cause.
Lauren Roberts, entrepreneurship major, Class of 2026
OBEnaturelle is a company that facilitates community and team building by providing terrarium-making kits for virtual and in-person events.
Emilie Delaye, entrepreneurship major, Class of 2024
Relief is a platform and service that aims to relieve the logistical burdens women with chronic illness experience when seeking diagnosis and treatment.
Saviour Anyagri, MBA, Class of 2025
Saviour-Organization is a nonprofit organization with the vision to help provide educational and developmental opportunities to children in low-resource settings. The focus currently is Garu, Ghana, with the goal of expanding into other regions.
Tom's Refurb, LLC
Thomas Stauffer, entrepreneurship major, Class of 2024
Tom's Refurb, LLC, is an online automotive content brand featuring stories and videos on social media and a growing merchandise website.
As Demo Day drew to a close, a sense of accomplishment lingered in the air. The startups had not only unveiled their creations to the world but also formed connections that would shape their trajectories moving forward. Investors exchanged contact information, mentors extended offers of continued guidance, and potential partnerships loomed on the horizon. While the Summer Founder’s cohort had ended, if the connections made and progress shown during demo day were indicative of anything, it is only the beginning of a bright future for the 2023 Summer Founders.
About Horn Entrepreneurship
Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement at the University of Delaware. Currently ranked among the best entrepreneurship programs in the US, Horn Entrepreneurship was built and is actively supported by successful entrepreneurs, empowering aspiring innovators as they pursue new ideas for a better world.