For RealSelf founder and CEO, Tom Seery, investing in the next generation of entrepreneurs in technology is personal to him on many levels. He is a graduate of the University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business, an Advisory Board Member for the UW Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, and a winner of the startup competition himself! That’s why RealSelf has been an ongoing sponsor for the University of Washington Business Plan Competition (now The Dempsey Startup Competition) since 2017.
“My path to entrepreneurship began with the UW business plan competition, where I pitched a plan for a consumer video service prior to the advent of YouTube—yeah, I’m that old! The experience gave me confidence in my ability and the conviction to start a business.” – Tom Seery
“The experience gave me confidence in my ability and the conviction to start a business.” – Tom Seery, RealSelf
This year, RealSelf sponsored the Best Consumer Product Idea prize for most compelling new consumer product focusing on a well-defined market. Jani Strand, our chief communications and brand officer, had the honor of presenting the award to Wheyward Spirit, founded by University of Oregon alumni Emily Darchuk. Wheyward Spirit makes “farm-to-flask” spirits from excess whey from dairy farms. The company’s goal is “to have a local impact scaled to a national brand, making a dent in waste and changing the way people look at spirits with every bottle sold.”
“Wheyward Spirit is an example of the creativity and innovation that we admire and strive for at RealSelf, and Ms. Darchuk is an inspiration for all aspiring entrepreneurs, especially young women,” said Strand. “I was personally thrilled to present the award for a spirits company, which couldn’t be more apropos!”
When asked what this competition has meant for her and her business, Darchuk shared:
“Participating in the Dempsey Challenge was an incredible platform to get in front of successful and incredibly supportive Seattle business leaders. Winning the best consumer product concept prize was a huge honor. The money will go directly to supporting commercialization and attending future events to engage with consumers and investors. I am so excited for RealSelf to honor Wheyward Spirit with this prize because they are all about consumer empowerment through their platform and we at Wheyward Spirit aim to do the same by offering a better tasting and more sustainable spirit option to consumers.”
“I am so excited for RealSelf to honor Wheyward Spirit with this prize because they are all about consumer empowerment through their platform and we at Wheyward Spirit aim to do the same by offering a better tasting and more sustainable spirit option to consumers.” – Emily Darchuk, Wheyward Spirit
To learn more about this year’s winners of The Dempsey Startup Competition, check out UW’s Foster Blog. In addition to The Dempsey Startup Competition, RealSelf partners with the ADA Academy, YearUp, and Treehouse to support the next generation of entrepreneurs.