By Steve Tawa

PHILADLEPHIA (CBS) — The sharp minds at the University of Pennsylvania were on display during a competition among student-founded startups.

They were in the running for $100,000 in cash and prizes in the Penn-Wharton Startup Challenge.

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Each student team had a ten-minute pitch deck, or presentation, for their product or service, according to Managing Director Claire Leinweber of Penn Wharton

Ruchi Banka showcasing her business, Splaced. (credit: Steve Tawa)


“And then an application process that forced them to think through the critical components of their business model,” she explained.

In the final round, student entrepreneurs like Ruchi Banka gave one-minute pitches – literally – in an elevator.

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“Our business is Splaced, and our goal is to connect users who are looking for space with businesses that have underutilized space,” Banka explained.

She says Splaced wants to be the Airbnb of commercial space.

Another student getting her M.B.A., Alexandra Dombrowski, is one of the co-founders of Blik.

Alexandra Dombrowski showing off “Blik.” (credit: Steve Tawa)

“It’s a price comparison tool for online groceries, so think of Kayak for groceries,” she said.

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The judges, who were experienced investors or established entrepreneurs, and predominantly alumni, evaluated the viability of each startup idea, to better prepare students for real-life business situations.