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MSU Returns to SXSW Entrepreneurial Eight

Michigan State University student startup team Tech Twurl are finalists in the 2015 Student Startup Madness (SSM) tournament, a nationwide tournament-style competition for college student digital media startups. SSM culminates with the “Entrepreneurial Eight” national finals at South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive on Monday, March 16, in Austin, Texas. Tech Twurl received a $1,000 prize for their participation.

Tech Twurl provides a simple, quick, and secure way for customers to buy, sell, and repair their electronic devices. Specializing in electronics resale, Tech Twurl’s new app, “Protection” provides real-time valuations to owner’s devices, and aggregates local repair options to ensure users get the best prices for repair by encouraging repair shops to compete for business. The app also allows for cashless local device resale.

Tech Twurl Team members include Usman Majeed, Computer Science and Engineering Senior; Patrick Chouinard, Statistics Senior and Russell Schafer, Supply Chain Management Senior.

Tech Twurl team members, as well as previous MSU teams competing in SXSW, have been active users of the Hatch student incubator, run by Spartan Innovations in the MSU Innovation Center. The MSU Innovation Center works collaboratively across all university departments to help move student and faculty ideas to market. Tech Twurl was among more than 500 companies that submitted entries to this year’s competition.

“We’re proud to have a strong team of student entrepreneurs winning at the national level again this year,” shared Paul Jaques, Director of Student and Community Engagement at Spartan Innovations. “The energy of students and mentors at MSU’s student Hatch and in the entrepreneurship program at MSU speaks volumes about the talent in our community, and ability to launch innovative business and projects that can compete in today’s global economy.”

MSU EA Startup Bus

Members of the Michigan State University Entrepreneurship Association used a Kickstarter campaign to fund the purchase and renovation of a school bus to take ten members, including the Tech Twurl team, to the South By Southwest Interactive Conference. Supported by nearly two dozen donors, contributors include Whirlpool Corporation, CO2 Estates, eVideon and Venturit.


For the third time in as many years, Michigan State University student startup teams have been Entrepreneurial Eight finalists in Student Startup Madness. Programs and facilities such as the Hive, the Hatch, the Center for Entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship coursework have helped MSU become a leader in digital media and helping student innovations move to market.

MSU Entrepreneurial Eight finalists from years past:

  • Carbon Cash was an entrepreneurial eight finalist in 2014. This software platform and mobile application encourages college students to conserve energy by utilizing a university’s smart electrical metering technology. Dorms and even floors within dorms compete with one another to save energy. The students that save the most energy are then rewarded with deals at local restaurants and stores.
  • Tempo Run was an entrepreneurial eight finalist in 2013, and won first place. The iPhone application sorts user’s music by tempo to create the ultimate exercise experience—matching the intensity level of their workouts.

Michigan State University is one of 10 national hosts for Student Startup Madness. As a host, MSU encourages teams to apply to compete in South By Southwest (SXSW) Student Startup Madness, helps promote the competition, and advises on corporate sponsors, judges (VCs, angel investors, startup founders) and coaches.

Learn more about Tech Twurl on their website: https://www.techtwurl.com

The Protection App can be found in Apple’s App Store: http://tinyurl.com/ProtectionApp

Follow the MSU EA’s Startup Bus travel on twitter at @MSUStartupBus