5 Rice University-founded startups named finalists ahead of annual pitch competition
Five student-founded startups are headed to the finals of a prestigious Rice University startup pitch competition later this month.
The H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge, or NRLC, is a venture competition that features Rice University's top student-founded startups. The annual competition is open to undergraduate, graduate, and MBA students. The organization also has an alumni track, which will not be held this year, but will open its applications in 2024.
According to Rice, NRLC attracted more applicants than ever this year, and the organization had to narrow down the finalists in two rounds. The first round selecter 12 companies and the second round narrowed down to the five finalists that will compete at NRLC's 2023 championship event is on April 19. The finalists will pitch their business ventures to win a share of $100,000 in equity-free funding. The event is free and open to anyone interested in attending.
Here are the five startups founded by Rice students that have made it to the finals.
Goldie, founded by three Rice MBA students, uses its algorithm-based fit finder technology to help online shoppers find their perfect fits digitally based on physical measurements and production size charts. On the other end of the transactions, Goldie lowers the 21 percent e-commerce rate of returns and increases customer lifetime value.
Founders: Viviane Nguyen, CEO and MBA ‘23; Stephanie Zhou, COO and MBA ‘23; Samantha Wong, CTO and Master's of science in Mechanical Engineering and MBA ‘22.
As the world continues to solve the challenges associated with energy storage, the demand for lithium continues to rise. Separion has a solution that uses brines already produced by geothermal energy and provides an environmentally friendly extraction process will supply lithium faster, purer, and greener.
Founders: Yuren Feng, CEO and Environmental Engineering PhD ‘24; Xiaochuan Huang, CTO and Environmental Engineering PhD ‘23; Ze He, COO and Chemical Engineering PhD ‘23
The world is riddled with "forever" chemicals, as defined by the CDC. These per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances build up in our bodies, dever degrade, and can cause many health issues, such as cancer, asthma, liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, and cause congenital disabilities. Sygne Solutions has created a patent-pending technology that permanently destroys PFAS – thereby eliminating them from the environment. The process is scalable and sustainable, and targets the substances in water.
Founders: Bo Wang, Chemical Engineering PhD ‘23; Subash Kannan, MBA ‘24; Dana Vazquez, MBA ‘24; Kimberly Heck, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Research Scientist
Tidepay is targeting the shipping industry with its HR and payroll solution that streamlines the onboarding process and helps transfer wages to their globally positioned employees’ bank accounts. The technology enables character reading technology to scan documents and verify eligibility and provides digital bank accounts and debit cards to unbanked seafarers. They also serve the seafarer by offering financial and logistical support services beyond remittance.
Founders: Andrew Pitigoi, CEO and Finance BBA ‘26; Devin Shah, CFO and Finance BBA ‘26
Tierra Climate is looking at a unique challenge within the grid-scale battery business. Normally not compensated for the clean storage work they do, these battery operators are able to be compensated on the Tierra Climate platform, where battery projects can sell verified Carbon Avoidance Offsets to corporate buyers.
Founders: Emma Konet, CTO and MBA ’24; Jacob Mansfield, CEO and Harvard MBA ‘23