Stillman School Senior and David B. Gerstein Scholar Taseen Peterson is the 2013-2014 National Champion of the South by Southwest (SXSW) Student Startup Madness Championship Finals, held in Austin, Texas on Mon., March 10. He and his team took first place with their digital note-sharing product, Notefuly. The contest started in December with 64 student teams from 22 different colleges and universities. The contestants were pared to 32 semi-finalists and then to the final eight.
“I was surprised. You never know what the judges will think,” said Peterson. “I don’t feel I won for myself and my company, but also for Seton Hall, my family and my partners – everyone involved who supported and encouraged us.”
Notefuly is what Peterson calls, “the digital solution to the physical note.” It gives users the ability to design their own sticky notes and share them with other users and across all of their devices – computers, mobile phones and tablets. One feature allows users to send location-based notes, taking the place, for instance, of a note taped to the refrigerator door. For example, a user can remind a roommate to take out the trash, and that note won’t be delivered until the roommate walks through the door.
To take home the coveted SSM Rocket Trophy and bragging rights for the next year, the Seton Hall team had to go up against stiff competition.
“It is really amazing to see how our relatively young program has generated a successful entrepreneur like Taseen who can compete with established entrepreneurship programs at some of the best universities in the world, like Carnegie Mellon, RIT, Syracuse, Princeton, the University of Chicago and USC,” said Stillman School Dean Joyce Strawser.
Peterson credits many mentors for his team’s success, including Professor Susan Scherreik, the director of the Stillman School Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.
“Taseen’s win points out the high quality of the Stillman School's entrepreneurship program, which stresses applying theory and concepts learned in the classroom in the real world,” said Scherreik. “In addition, a strength of our program is providing our student entrepreneurs with mentoring and feedback from seasoned, successful entrepreneurs. It's all about hands-on learning.”
Peterson was a second-place finisher last year in the center’s venture fund competition for Seton Hall students, Pirate’s Pitch. Coming so close to the top prize motivated Peterson and his partners to prepare for the SXSW competition.
“I practiced my pitch all the time,” said Peterson. “I pitched to the air, my brother, my family, my girlfriend and my advisors.”
The practice paid off with a win. Peterson’s team – his brother Mark, chief technical officer, and their Los Angeles-based creative director Cameron Smith – received $5,000 of credits for Google Cloud Platform to help them take Notefuly to the next level.
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