HAMMOND and WESTVILLE, Ind. – The Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest hosted the inaugural Uthiverse StartUp Madness Business Pitch Tournament at the Purdue University Northwest (PNW) Hammond campus on March 30.

Student teams from Hammond Central, Lowell and Munster high schools pitched their businesses for an opportunity to win $2,500 in seed money from Uthiverse. This seed funding can be used to improve their business idea, develop a prototype, create a minimum viable product (MVP), implement a marketing strategy or fund some other activity that helps them launch their venture.

“It is always exciting to see students participate in events like this,” said Ken Patrick Barry, a Gary native and co-founder of Uthiverse. “Some of our participants had never pitched in front of an audience before. They had their first taste. That means the next time they get to do something like this, they’ll be even better.”

Scent Seal, a team from Munster High School, was named winner of the event. Team members include Josephine “Fifi” Pirok, Nabeel Rabie and Brooke Weatherly. Scent Seal aims to “shake up the cosmetics and fragrance industry.” The company’s unique applicator prevents fragrances such as perfumes and body sprays from fading by “sealing your scents.”

“It means everything for us to win,” said Rabie, one of the co-founders of Scent Seal. “We’re seeing all of our hard work come to fruition. This gives us a push to keep going and we’re really excited about the next steps for our business.”

“Our whole team is passionate about this business so it’s really good to be seen and heard,” said Pirok. “We feel like we can actually make a difference in an industry that’s so vast.”

Faith Spencer, CEO of IronWorkz Corporation, served as one of the judges for the event. “This was really impressive,” she said. “Providing a space for students who don’t advance in other pitch competitions is important. It gives even more local students that opportunity to present in front of a group of judges.”

Uthiverse StartUp Madness is an innovative, pitch competition designed to give high school students participating in a diversity of entrepreneurship programs an opportunity to win seed money.

The Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest

The Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest (PNW) aims to contribute to economic and community development throughout the region as the champion of innovation in Northwest Indiana. For more information about the Society of Innovators, visit www.pnw.edu/soi.

The Uthiverse

Founded by husband-and-wife team Ken Patrick and Nicole Barry, The Uthiverse provides space for young people to explore infinite opportunities as the prepare to transition into adulthood. Five key priorities for the organization include: Teen Mental Health, College and Career Readiness, Workforce Development, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Transition to Adulthood. For more information about The Uthiverse, visit www.uthiverse.com.