The Dr Pepper ‘Hail Mary for $23K’ Contest Is Helping Student Entrepreneurs Make Their Dreams Come True

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(Via Dr Pepper)

Facts: There's nothing better than the cold, refreshing treat of a Dr Pepper. Nothing, that is, aside from the fact that our favorite drink is also well known for giving back and supporting students. Through the Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway program, the brand has awarded over $13 million in tuition to deserving college students since 2008 to help further their business and education goals.

College students are some of the biggest dreamers and brightest minds on the planet, as we well know. That's why this year, in addition to the annual Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway contest, the brand created the new ‘Hail Mary for $23K’ contest, which invited students to throw ‘hail mary business ideas’ in a pitch setting to a panel of high-profile entrepreneurs for a chance to win $23K in tuition dollars plus an additional $23K in seed funding. The three judges included Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner, TV personality and entrepreneur; Charlotte Jones, Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer; and Jon Seaton, Elon University football player, and CEO of the Big Boy Council.

Pretty cool, right? Check out how it all went down in the video below and read on for more about the amazing student entrepreneurs and their brilliant ideas.

Ritika Shamdasani: Sani

Ritika Shamdasani is currently enrolled at NC State. Her startup business is Sani, an apparel brand inspired by South Asian culture. The idea all started one day when she and her sister were shopping for dresses for an Indian wedding, and after a multitude of tries to find an authentic dress, they came up empty—so Ritika decided to make her own. All the designs are created by Ritika and her sister, and they exclusively work with women-owned manufacturing partners in India. 

Ben Catania: Yoomi 

Ben Catania is currently a student at Cornell University. His startup is Yoomi, an AI driven platform that enables physical therapists to better monitor and guide patients during their at-home exercise programs—all by using motion-capturing technology. The product can be subsidized through healthcare insurance and will help create a better flow of information for physical therapists. 

Ben Pikus: Sølv 

Ben Pikus is currently a senior at Michigan State University. His startup is looking to change the way we dry our feet off after a shower. Inspired by his mom's shock at just how dirty he managed to get their bath mats, Ben came up with Sølv, an antimicrobial, washer-friendly shower mat made of luxurious foam.

The Winner Is…

After hearing all the pitches, the three judges were tasked with choosing one presenter to take home the grand prize of tuition and seed money. The three judges debated meticulously, but finally came to their decision. The winner of the Dr Pepper ‘Hail Mary for $23k’ contest was…Ben Catania and his business, Yoomi!

Make sure to tune into the Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway during the College Football Conference Championship Games on December 2nd and 3rd for more—and to maybe get inspired yourself.