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2020-21 Ureka Challenge Kicks Off

Student entrepreneurs will vie for prizes as they grow their ventures

The annual Clark University Ureka Challenge kicked off in perfect 2020 fashion – with a socially distanced dinner and some wonderful words of encouragement from University executives and alumni via Zoom.

Ureka kickoff eventOrganized by the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program (E & I) in the School of Management (SOM), the Ureka Challenge is a month-long event designed to promote, develop, and grow Clark’s student ventures. Ventures accepted into the Challenge can be of any size, and each are awarded $100 of investment seed money at the start of the competition. Over a span of approximately three months, participants are mentored by Clark entrepreneurship faculty, alumni, and successful entrepreneurs, receiving one-on-one help outside of the classroom as well.

Teresa Quinn, program manager for SOM’s E and I program, runs the Challenge. It is, by far, her favorite event of the year.

“This is so much more than just a contest,” she states. “Besides business mentoring, students learn about crowdfunding campaigns, gain skills in videography, learn how to tell their business’ story and engage with customers.”

Halfway through the challenge, at the end of the crowdfunding campaign, the Clark community votes for the “People’s Choice Award,” with $100 of “Ureka Bucks” to grant to one or more students. Ultimately, at the end of the journey in March, each student must present to a panel of judges the outcome of their original $100 investment, sharing what they learned along the journey, and pitching their need for additional funding for future growth. The panel, made up of Clark alumni and local entrepreneurs, then divvies up a purse of prize money to the winners.

“The entrepreneurial energy of the students and support of our alumni and Clark administration is exciting,” Quinn added. “We’re all looking forward to seeing our students thrive!”

At the kick-off event, participating students received encouraging words from Clark University President David Fithian, as well as School of Management Dean Alan Eisner, and two Clark alumnae who were instrumental in supporting this year’s challenge:  Samantha Goodman, ’11 and Patricia Clapp, ’95. Both are entrepreneurs and self-employed business women who have started numerous successful companies and ventures.

Student Ethan LutzThe kick-off event allowed each student to describe their business for the first time to their peers and Clark staff. Clark senior Ethan Lutz started his company, “Penny Wise PPE Protection,” in response to his time spent as an EMT in New York City and seeing healthcare workers had few safe, clean spaces to store their personal protective equipment. He created a germicidal PPE storage bag as an alternative to paper bags.

“I’m extremely excited to see how the Ureka Challenge can help me grow my business, especially given that this pandemic has no end in sight yet and our frontline responders need this type of safe storage for PPE,” he stated.

Following are all of the students participating in this year’s Ureka Challenge and their businesses:

Student  Venture Name Digital Presence
Qingqing Lu and Shilin Cheng Viewpon
Martina Villanueva Magpies Collect
Sujhan Ghimire Shoes-On
Ethan Lutz Penny Wise PPE Protection
Maseeng Masitha & Maria Masood Solace Handicrafts
Julia Dantzler No Worries Skin Care Instagram- @noworries_skincare
Lucy Barrett & Billy Gove Worcester Free Fridge Instagram (@worcesterfreefridge)
Gari De Ramos Radical in Progress
Jens Peterson What We Leave
Victoria Pastor ViLashes
Madeline Steigman Dough is Me Instagram @dough_is_me
Charisma Nguyen-Lai Charied Away Instagram: @charied_away
Melanie Adams The Empower Yoga Project Instagram: @empoweryogaproject
Justin Zay & Ben Abbot GoRamen Instagram:
Da’Vyana Williams Economically Girly
Tsanta Rakotoarisoa & Wuzhenjun Xue Tsara & Soa with Videeko Vanilla
Jacqueline Ricketts-Hagan Generation ZE

Ureka logo


Meredith Galena
Communications Specialist
School of Management