Holekamp Seed Fund grants $17K to student-led startups for 2021-22 academic year

Seventeen WashU Olin student-led startup firms each received a $1,000 grant from the Holekamp Seed Fund over the past academic year. The grant program, initiated in 2018, has granted a total of $44,000 to 40 companies since then.

The program is the brainchild of Cliff Holekamp, MBA ’01, Olin’s former professor of practice and academic director for entrepreneurship. The program is built to provide up to 20 grants each year thanks to a $500,000 gift from Holekamp and his father Bill Holekamp.

“It’s exciting to see not just student interest in the Holekamp Seed Fund doubling but also the continued excitement and energy around entrepreneurship at Olin and WashU,” Cliff Holekamp said of the 2022 grantees. “WashU students have exceptional and big ideas to change the world. We’re proud to be the first money in to support them.”

The number of applications doubled from 11 to 22 year-over-year, with grantees rising from 10 to 17.

Grant applications are evaluated by a panel that includes Holekamp and Doug Villhard, Olin’s professor of practice and academic director for entrepreneurship. The four-member panel also includes II Luscri, assistant vice provost for innovation and entrepreneurship, and director of the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship; and Elise Miller Hoffman, AB ’11/MBA ’16, and a general partner at Cultivation Capital, Holekamp’s venture capital firm.

“We encourage students to courageously move beyond the brainstorming phase, by turning their ideas into action and their concept into a company,” Hoffman said. “It’s my pleasure to review their applications, offer advice and seed the next generation of innovation. Our students are beyond inspiring.”

The 2022 Holekamp Seed fund recipients include:

  • St. Louis Consulting Group, Samuel Holliday, MBA ’23
  • bonhome, Jacob Wise, MD ’23/MBA ’23
  • Ice Cream for Bears, Tim Berg, MBA ’22
  • Closet Switch, Chiara Munzi, AB ’23
  • Vulvopedia, Najjuwah Walden, PhD/MSW ’18
  • NXTUP, Nathan Genstein, MBA ’22
  • SpanAbility, Ritvik Illindala, EN ’23
  • SpeakIT, Kai Skallerud, AB ’17/MBA ’22
  • VertiGreens, Dave Kanoff, BSBA ’12/MBA ’22, and Tova Feinberg, MBA ’22
  • Got Sure, Felipe Cuartas, MBA ’22
  • Utter, Justin Matthews, MBA ’23
  • Lyfe Health, Tony Sims, BSBA ’23
  • The pcBEE, Tyler Richards, BSEE ’22
  • Pool, Rebecca Brosch, PMBA 51, and Sarah Ramrup, PMBA
  • Sobriety Hub, Clayton Canfield, BSBA ’23

“We’re fortunate to have supporters like the Holekamp family and alumni like Elise who are passionate about Olin, WashU and our students,” Villhard said. “What a wonderful example of how a donor can really impact our students and help to encourage their dreams and career trajectory.”

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