University of Chicago and University of Oklahoma take top prizes

The California Dreamin’ competition, now in its third year at Chapman University, has grown to be the largest new venture competition in higher education in the West, both in terms of prize money and number of universities participating. Over two days on April 25 and 26, the competition brought together students from top university entrepreneur programs around the country and even internationally to prove that they have the best new venture. The top prize for the event overall went to the team from the University of Chicago for their company Simple Mills. Other finalists included Carnegie Mellon University, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Irvine, and University of Houston. Finalist teams pitched businesses targeted at medical device, transportation and shipping, material safety, water filtration, automotive safety, sleep disorders, local delivery, mobile advertisement, and architectural design project efficiency applications.

‘This weekend was a remarkable learning and networking opportunity and we have Chapman University to thank for that,” said University of Chicago student and founder of the winning company Simple Mills, Katlin Smith. “We walked away with so many invaluable connections and education, it is difficult to say just how much this will impact our business.”

The event, by invitation only featured 35 schools competing for $250,000 in prize money and equity investment, and connections to venture capital firms. There were three tracks of competitions including Full Pitch, 90-Second Fast Pitch, and a Case Competition. The three tracks are structured to allow up to 15 schools to walk away with cash.

“This year’s competition exceeded the previous ones on all accounts,” said Richard Sudek, director of Chapman University’s Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics. “We saw the best new ventures and student feedback emphasized how valuable and rich the networking was with investors. Our judging pool was the strongest ever – they look at the new ventures from the standpoint of which one they would invest in and the winners this year proved their worth in this regard. We will be raising the bar even higher next year,” Sudek continued.

The California Dreamin’ competition is an international entrepreneurially-focused higher education competition. Businesses presented vary widely in terms of product and service industry orientation. In most cases, the participating teams have already won the internal competition at their respective universities. Previous winners of California Dreamin’ have gone on to amass further success for their venture, and millions of dollars of investment.

“California Dreaming has become an internationally recognized business competition by combining mentoring, feedback from industry leaders and substantive prizes and investment capital to the dynamic student teams,” said Jamie Montgomery, Managing Director at March Capital Partners and also one of the event judges. “The competition continues to attract dozens of truly legitimate business plans and is inspiring a next generation of entrepreneurs.”

Below is the full list of winning universities and their business concepts:

Full Pitch: $105,000 Cash and $105,000 Equity Eligibility

In addition to the monetary prizes, all five full-pitch finalists also received three guaranteed screenings of their choice from the following venture capital partners: Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, March Capital, Menlo Ventures, Miramar Ventures, Pritzker Group, Rincon Venture Partners, and True Ventures.

University of Chicago (Booth) – Simple Mills – $70,000 ($35,000 cash & $35,000 equity eligibility)

Simple Mills
makes baking mixes that are actually healthy and delicious!  Increasingly consumers are avoiding the center aisles in grocery stores because products are loaded with sugar, highly processed flours, and unnatural ingredients.  Here, Simple Mills is creating a new vertical of delicious almond flour mixes made with ingredients free of refined sugar, gluten, and unnatural ingredients. 

Carnegie Mellon University – $50,000 ($25,000 cash & $25,000 equity eligibility)

is a real-time GPS enabled app that creates a platform for carriers (truckers) to interact directly with shippers, thereby eliminating the need for intermediary brokers in the freight industry. This ability creates a new market for shippers while developing new sources of revenue for the carriers.


University of California, Berkeley – $30,000 ($15,000 cash & $15,000 equity eligibility)

is a chemical sensing company with a unique platform. We use optical plasmonic technology to deliver devices that are extremely sensitive, portable, and easy to use: because we believe that to protect the environment, industrial facilities across the world they need to know what chemicals are in their plants. Our technology gives them the information to operate safely and cleanly.

University of California, Irvine – $30,000 ($15,000 cash & $15,000 equity eligibility)

Laser Associated Sciences (LAS)
is a medical device company focused on optical measurement of blood flow. LAS’s products build upon patent-protected technology that provides flow measurements with unparalleled accuracy and simplicity. FlowMet, is a clip-on medical device that measures blood flow in the peripheral microcirculation (fingers, toes).

University of Houston – $30,000 ($15,000 cash & $15,000 equity eligibility)

Water contamination claims 3.4 million lives worldwide annually. Existing water filters do not completely clean water. A Wavve coated water filter uniquely removes heavy metals and inactivates all bacteria simultaneously. Wavve uses its patent pending graphene-­

based nanotechnology to significantly enhance the performance of existing water filters.

First Place winners of the Investor Presentation Competition

Second Place winners in the Investor Presentation Competition
Finalists in the Investor Presentation Competition
Finalists in the Investor Presentation Competition
Finalists in the Investor Presentation Competition

Fast Pitch: $25,000 of Cash Awards

University of Oklahoma – $10,000

Many car owners don’t have the knowledge necessary to properly maintain and repair their vehicles. Car dealerships spend a fortune on service center advertising. Driven Analytics has developed SmartDrive, a vehicle monitoring system that provides detailed maintenance and diagnostic information for car owners, designed to decrease the maintenance knowledge gap.

Stanford University – $ 6,000

is a consumer health company operating in the $26B sleep devices market with a suite of products helping parents improve their kid’s sleep. Their first product, the over-the-counter Caydian Dream, is the first cure for 4.5 M children who develop night terrors each year. 


Cornell University – $ 3,000

is a leading enterprise SAAS provider of predictive online and mobile shopping applications to US independent grocers. Launched in July 2013, Rosie today enables customers to shop online from local grocers for delivery or in-store pickup. Customers use Rosie on their phones, tablets, or laptops. Retailers select Rosie for e-commerce, delivery opportunities, and deep data services.

University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) – $ 3,000

is an intelligent Android app that pays users to view beautifully designed ads every time they unlock their phones. Over time, the app learns users’ preferences based off of their behaviors during different times of day and at different locations to create a more profitable and relevant user experience.

University of Texas at Dallas – $ 3,000

is a computer hardware and software solution provider serving the architecture, engineering, construction (AEC) industry through a revolutionary, patent pending display device surrounded by cloud-based file sharing solutions designed to eliminate the need for AEC firms to print full-size and half-size plans on paper.

First Place winners in the Fast Pitch Competition

Second Place winners in the Fast Pitch Competition
Finalists in the Fast Pitch Competition
Finalists in the Fast Pitch Competition
Finalists in the Fast Pitch Competition

Case Competition: $15,000 of Cash Awards

The Case Competition challenges teams by presenting them with a real case the night before that they must present to a judging panel the following day. The following schools were the winners and finalists in the Case Competition:

University of Oklahoma – $5,000

Baylor University – $4,000


University of Utah – $2,000

University of California, San Diego – $2,000

Loyola Marymount University – $2,000

First place winners in the Case Competition

Second Place winners in the Case Competition
Finalists in the Case Competition
Finalists in the Case Competition
Finalist in the Case Competition


We are very grateful for the event sponsors’ interest in developing and supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs. This year’s sponsors included: the Title Sponsor Microsemi, VIP Reception and Team Accomodations sponsor Ghost Group, the Fast Pitch Track sponsor the Tarsadia Foundation, the Case Competition Track sponsor the Kay Family Foundation, the Kick-off Lunch sponsor Citrix, and the Judges Hospitality sponsor Vizio. Additional sponsorship was provided by City National Bank, Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Services, Silicon Valley Bank, Stearns Lending, Stradling and Tangram.

Angel partners included: Band of Angels, Life Science Angels, Sand Hill Angels, and Tech Coast Angels.

To see a full list of participating schools, agenda, sponsors and complete panel of judges, visit:
. Visit Twitter using #CADreamin to see a full complement of a variety of participants’ comments. Next year’s California Dreamin’ Entrepreneurial Conference and Competition will take place April 24-25, 2015.

About the Ralph W. Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Ethics

Established in 1995, Chapman University’s Leatherby Center offers one of the nation’s most respected programs for entrepreneurial young men and women.  The center aims to prepare and inspire principled, dynamic entrepreneurs whose ideas improve lives and solve important problems.  Through innovative courses and real-world leadership, the center provides students with access to a range of resources, including professional mentoring, entrepreneurial internships, a multi-university network, community resources, events, speakers, research, professional groups, competitions and boot camps. Ranked as the #13 Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Program by
Business Week,
the Leatherby Center is unique in its approach to connecting students with inventors, investors and real-world entrepreneurs. For more information, visit

Consistently ranked among the top universities in the West, Chapman University provides a uniquely personalized and interdisciplinary educational experience to highly qualified students. Our programs encourage innovation, creativity and collaboration, and focus on developing global citizen-leaders who are distinctively prepared to improve their community and their world. Visit

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