A Rice University startup competition concluded with a big win for a company started by students trying to use tech to help prevent veteran suicide.
The startup, rutd: resources united. technology driven., a secure platform that can deliver more than 14,000 mental health resources to veterans, won first prize at the virtually held H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge last week. The prize included a $27,500 check.
Seven other Rice-affiliated startups pitched for judges at the event for a shot at equity-free seed funding. The program is a part of Rice's Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, or Lilie.
"With the biggest and most diverse field of competitors in the history of the competition, it shows that at Rice and Lilie, you don't have to choose between being a student and working on your startup. We empower you to do both," says Kyle Judah, executive director of Lilie, in a press release. "These founders took advantage of all our resources and opportunities — which is why they had million-dollar partnerships and tens of thousands of users at competition time."
Second place went to Green Room, a startup that aims to provide tools — like payments and tax compliance — for Houstonians in the live music industry. The Green Room team won $20,000.
In third place was A440, a company focused on "bringing the creator economy to classical music, helping a centuries-old art form find new life in the modern era," according to the release. A440 won the $15,000 third place prize, as well as the $2,500 Norman Dresden Leebron Audience Choice Award.
The competition, which was sponsored by was sponsored by Mercury Fund and T-Minus Solutions and supported by the Napier family and the Liu Family Foundation, also provided mentoring and pitch coaching opportunities from experts and the Rice community.
The judges included Rice alumni Claire Shorall, CEO and co-founder of Topknot; Sunit Patel, CFO of Ibotta; Monica Pal, founding partner of How Women Invest; Chris Staffel, managing director of GOOSE Capital; and Brad Husick, CEO and founder of IdeaSense.