Meet the Winners of the Meaningful Change Video Pitch Challenge

The competition caps off the AU Center for Innovation's annual Startup and Standout event, a series of free workshops for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Pitch competitors in Zoom call

The Meaningful Change Video Pitch Challenge, which ran throughout July, engaged American University students by identifying problems that need “meaningful change” with an impactful solution.

Twelve student teams created two-minute videos that were reviewed by a team of AU alumni judges who were previous venture leaders in the AUCI incubator program. The top five finalists included:

First Place ($5,000)

Life Guided

Samantha Bendt (SIS and Kogod), Stacey Casas (SIS and Kogod), and Abolaji Omitogun (Kogod)


Second Place ($3,500)

Education PATH

Veer Sawhney (SPA)


Third Place ($1,500)

Social Botterfly

Johnene Mcbeth (WCL)




Karina Arango (SIS), Kate Tisdell (SIS), and Olufemi Odumosu (Kogod)



Livin' Social

Priyanka Bist (Kogod), Zsari Delaney (Kogod), and Eman Mohamed (Kogod)


For the final live presentation on July 29, the student teams had 72 hours to prepare, script, and practice for a three-minute live presentation and a five-minute question and answer session. The teams worked with leadership from Kogod’s Center for Business Communications on developing their presentations.

The final live presentation round judges were experienced entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capitalists, and angel investors from the American University alumni community.

"Participating in AU's Meaningful Change Video Pitch Challenge was an insightful experience for our team,” says SIS and Kogod student Samantha Bendt from the winning group, Life Guided. “We were able to come together to identify a social need and gained great mentorship along the way. It was important for us to make sure that our platform and initiative helped one of our society’s most underserved groups. All of the seminars as part of the larger AUCI Startup and Standout series were instrumental to our success with the Meaningful Change Video Pitch Competition,”

“The Meaningful Change Video Pitch Challenge is a great addition to American University's commitment to the education and experiences of their students,” says Kogod alum and judge from the final round of the competition Taylor Mason. “AU students impressed me once again. I was thrilled to be a part of a real-life experience for the students where they gained a tremendous amount of experience in a short time frame!”

See you back again next year (2022)!

The AUCI extends a big thank you to all of the judges from both rounds of the competition:

  • George Assimakopoulos
  • Austin Burrell
  • Adam Dexter
  • Matt DiVincenzo
  • Lisa Friedlander
  • Jason Ganz
  • Laura Iaffaldano
  • Cou Kalantary
  • Taylor Mason
  • Lisa Rosenthal
  • Richard Ross
  • Tariq Shawan
  • Peter To
  • Mark Ware

Our Kogod team helped make this all happen and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Thank you:

  • Bill Bellows
  • Caroline Colavita
  • Casey Evans
  • Caron Martinez
  • Sharyl Pattillo
  • Kelsey Wali
  • Kathyrn Walters-Conte
  • Sara Weinstock
  • Tommy White