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Looking Back at 2022

January 9, 2023

Close School A Year In Review: 2022

2022 was a great year for the Close School! From hosting events and competitions in-person again to creating new connections and opportunities for students through networking and mentorship, the Close School has provided funding opportunities that have pushed entrepreneurs to make a difference both in their communities and the environment. A lot of great things have happened this year. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of this year!


Throughout 2022, the Close School hosted events that brought together thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and members of the Drexel community.

Starting the year with a day dedicated to entrepreneurship, the Close School hosted Future Fest on March 3rd. During the event, students had opportunities to pitch their ideas, compete for prizes, meet alumni entrepreneurs and listen to their stories while networking with other entrepreneurs. Following Future Fest, the Close School took part in Drexel’s 24 Hours of Impact. The day was appropriately titled, Ignite Drexel’s Future, for it ignited a spark in the entrepreneurial community! The Close School received 108 donations, the most out of any Drexel school, totaling up to $124,526 being raised in a single day! The Close School finished off the year with Drexel’s annual biggest entrepreneurial event, Startup Fest. The day had amazing participation from Philadelphia’s entrepreneurial community, hosted a proving ground pop-up, a creator convention, insightful student panels, a fast pitch competition, and the Drexel Startups Fund competition.


Entrepreneurs are always coming up with new ideas, innovating on older concepts, and finding new ways to bring their ideas to life. One of the best ways for student entrepreneurs at Drexel to continue to develop their concepts is through entrepreneurial competitions. Students compete for the opportunity to practice and refine their pitch, get feedback from a panel of judges, and most importantly, have the chance to win funding and/or resources for their ideas.

The first competition to take place in 2022 was the Idea Accelerator Fast-Pitch Competition that took place during Future Fest. The competition had three winners: Amanda Shmidt with Breez, Doug Libby with DigMouth, and Clarence Smith with GoToTeks.

The next competition to take place was the Ciright Dragon Startup Competition. The competition is open to any Drexel University student, with the goal to spur innovative app-based solutions to real-world and social problems that affect Drexel University and the surrounding communities. With many great presentations, there were four winners picked to split the prize pool of $16,000.

  • 1st place $10,000: Ibraheem Ahmad - Frendz
  • 2nd place $3,000: Harrison Hertzberg - AeroInspect
  • 3rd place $1,500: Patrick Chapagain - Alltalk
  • 3rd place $1,500: Steve Earth - Grabsome

To read more about the competitors and their businesses click HERE.

The biggest and most anticipated competition of the year - Drexel Startups Fund Competition - took place at Startup Fest, with two smaller competitions happening earlier in the day as well. The first competition of the day was the Fast Pitch competition where each student/team gets 2 minutes to present their idea to a panel of judges. The winner of this competition was Connext, an app that would help bring together creators and freelancers. The team behind the app Connext was also awarded an additional $1,000 that day when they were announced as the winners of the Graphite, No Code Innovation Challenge.

Then followed the Drexel Startups Fund Competition where $50,000 was up for grabs! The audience watched as entrepreneurs pitched their ideas for a chance to take home a portion of the prize money. After some deliberation by the expert panel of judges, the winners were announced:

  • 1st Place $25,000: Lockdown Solutions
  • 2nd Place $12,500: Dukaan
  • 2nd Place $12,500: Market With Marvin

Watch a recap of the Startup Fest event and competition HERE.

When asked about the competitions and their benefit to the students, Chuck Sacco, Associate Dean of Strategic Initiatives and the Director of the Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship said, “The Close School has been a beacon of innovation and opportunity for our students. Through various competitions and funding programs such as Drexel Startups Fund, students have been able to turn their entrepreneurial dreams into a reality. I am excited to see what the new school year brings and how our students will continue to benefit from the support and resources provided by the Close School.”

Initiatives and Programs

With a focus on sustainability and helping to provide solutions to make the world a better, greener, and overall improved place through the work of entrepreneurs, let’s take a look at some of the new initiatives and highlighted programs in 2022.

Impact Innovation Hub

With the help of the Impact Innovation Hub, 3-5 Drexel undergraduates and/or graduate students were selected to receive educational opportunities, incubator space, access to mentors, and a stipend both at the start and the completion of the program. The world isn’t short of obstacles that need solving, working to make the world a better place is an inherent goal for many entrepreneurs, especially social entrepreneurs. With issues such as fighting world hunger, access to quality education, gender inequality, health, and well-being, there are plenty of ways entrepreneurs in the Drexel community can make a difference. Through innovative thinking and a drive to make the world a better place, Drexel entrepreneurs will continue to find solutions that use technology to make the world a better place. With the help of the Impact Innovation Hub, young entrepreneurs have the resources they need in order to succeed in making an impact. To learn more about the Impact Innovation Hub, click HERE!

Altomari Scholars & Rising Starters

This summer, the Close School welcomed a group of high school students to campus for a week-long summer camp to learn how to develop entrepreneurial solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems, becoming "Rising Starters" along the way. Through hands-on experiences, interactive workshops, and guest speakers, students learned the skills they needed to create their own pitch at the end of the week, which they presented to their peers, teachers, and faculty at the Close School. Along with the summer program, female participants were included in the Altomari Scholar program where they were invited to further their entrepreneurial learning through one-on-one mentorship, in-person events, and virtual programming throughout the year.

New Degree in Sustainability and Innovation

As the world continues to change, there will be new opportunities to advance the technologies that we use and understand. The next generation of entrepreneurs will have more opportunities to work towards creating a more sustainable future, but learning the skills to succeed in this ever-changing world is just one important step. Learning to think like an entrepreneur, developing new ideas, and implementing those ideas inside startups or existing businesses can only be done through practice. With the new degree in sustainability and innovation, students will not only learn the skills they need to succeed, but they’ll also gain practical skills and experience. Learn more about the new degree in sustainability and innovation HERE.

The End of 2022

Dean Donna De Carolis puts it best, “2022 - We came back in full swing with a packed year of events and competitions at the Close School and the Baiada Institute. The Close and Baiada teams continue to offer exciting and experiential programs that enhance students’ entrepreneurial journeys. I am looking forward to 2023 and invite everyone to engage with the Close School.”

We’re thankful for all the participation throughout 2022 and look forward to 2023 as we continue to drive the needle of entrepreneurship forward on campus and around the world.