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Student Innovators Shine in SwatTank Final

Logo that says "Swat Tank"

Last month, two teams of Swarthmore students competed in the finals of SwatTank, an idea competition sponsored by the Center for Innovation and Leadership (CIL) that provides students with the opportunity to take a rough idea, product, or concept and develop it toward its next incarnation, ideation, or realization. 

The winning team of Betsy Cohen ’20, an economics and art history major from Syosset, N.Y., and Drew McMahan ’22, an economics and film & media studies major from Orlando, Fla., pitched Matchband, an app interface that would provide a single platform connecting local musicians in search of gigs, venues in search of performers, and fans in search of concerts.

Coming in second were Rebecca Castillo ’20, an education, race, and media special major from Azusa, Calif., Ariana Hoshino ’20, a film & media studies and computer science major from Cornelius, N.C., and Isabelle Titcomb ’22, a film & media studies major from Holden, Mass., with their pitch for Storyboard, a service designed to inspire social change through digital storytelling by offering free, accessible, and intensive summer programs to underserved youth in urban areas.

This year’s finals came with the additional challenge of having to pitch remotely via Zoom to judges Marissa Davis ’08, Nick Martin ’04, and Rick Hunt, research director for Virginia Tech’s Apex Center for Entrepreneurs.

“We’re so grateful for and impressed by the students’ resilience and their commitment to the SwatTank finals process this year,” says CIL Director Katie Clark. “As we moved to a virtual format via Zoom, the students dealt with shifting deadlines and processes. The judges were blown away by how prepared, professional, and passionate Ariana, Isabelle, Rebecca, Betsy, and Drew were in their presentations and Q&A sessions.”

Clark also notes that the online format came with one silver lining: expanded opportunity for friends, family, and other supporters to watch the presentations in real time.

“We had about 180 people in the audience, which is significantly higher than if SwatTank finals had been held on campus,” she says. “This means that parents, alums, and friends who might not have been able to watch could tune in. While we are looking forward to an in-person finals in our future, we are grateful that so many folks came to support Storyboard and Matchband.”

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