Howard University’s Student Dream Homecoming Pitch Competition

Student Dream, a nonprofit that focuses on students attending historically black colleges and Hispanic-serving institutions to develop the ideas of those students into viable companies, collaborated on Sept. 30 with Howard University’s Homecoming Steering Committee to hold the university’s first Student Dream Homecoming Pitch Competition.

[Related: [TechConneXt Summit] Hackathon Recap]

Students from across the university applied to participate, and eight students were selected to compete. From fitness companies to venture capital-size ideas, students pitched their business visions to a panel of judges that included representatives from Shark Tank, the TV One Network, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Students competed for prizes totaling $1,000.

Oreoluwa Onatemowo, a computer science major and the first-place winner, said the competition was “awesome,” and hoped there would be more competitions that would allow students to show off their ideas. Third-place winner Blake Van Putten said he loved participating and “enjoyed learning how to create the perfect pitch.” Said Simeon Kakpovi, second-place winner and founder of BisonShare: “The Student Dream pitch competition allowed me to test and refine the business model for my startup through the constructive criticism of the judges and the encouragement and feedback of the audience.”

The eight finalists:

  • Songum – (Grand Prize Winner)  –  Oreoluwa Onatemowo  (junior)
  • Bison Share (2nd Prize Winner) – Simeon Kakpovi (sophomore)
  • CISE Apparel (3rd Prize Winner) – Blake Van Putten (senior)
  • SwypeShark – Alston Clark
  • Optimal Parking App – Whitney Cole
  • Just Move It – Nyiesha Showers
  • Happy Trigger – Nigel Van Groningen
  • PR and Branding - Jareyah Bradley

The winning ideas:

  • Songum – A mobile dating app that matches users based on preferences
  • Bison Share -  A platform for students to buy and sell textbooks from students on campus
  • CISE Apparel – An apparel brand designing premium custom apparel


  • Arian Simone – Entrepreneur
  • Jennifer Brown – TV One Network
  •  Nate Yohannes - Senior Adviser – Office of Investment & Innovation, from the administration of President Barack Obama
  • Brandon Andrews – Values Partnerships (Shark Tank Diversity Initiative)
  •  Bert Kauffman - Senior Adviser, Office of Business Liaison, U.S. Department of  Commerce

Student Dream trains collegiate students of color to launch startups. In 18 months,  through community, mentorship, and training programs, Student Dream has empowered more than 300 students across New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and the Virgin Islands to transform nearly 10 ideas into living, breathing companies; raise roughly $80,000 in funding, and envision entrepreneurship as a viable career path for their lives.

Student Dream is empowering students to transform their lives and communities through innovation and to possess the vision to see an incredibly diverse generation of leaders educated and equipped to solve problems, reach their creative potential, and contribute to the vibrancy of local and global economies through innovation.

To learn more about Student Dream, view its SD Highlight Video and Student Dream Alumni, or go to