University of Vermont

UVM Innovations

UVM Spinoffs Finish First and Second in LaunchVT Pitch Competition

Majorwise Is First Student-led Company to Win Competition

Max Robbins (left) and Peter Silverman, founders of Majorwise. Majorwise won the 2017 LaunchVT pitch competition.

Two University of Vermont spin-off companies, Majorwise and Packetized Energy, finished first and second in the 2017 LaunchVT competition, Vermont’s oldest and largest business pitch contest.

Majorwise, an on-line job platform that connects college students with local employers, was launched by UVM seniors Peter Silverman and Max Robbins in 2015 when the business majors were sophomores. It also has application for state departments of labor, businesses and non-profits.

It is the first student-led company to win LaunchVT. NBC recently profiled the start-up.

Silverman and Robbins received a $30,000 cash prize, which they’ll use to hire more developers, speeding the development of an improved version of the product, and to invest in marketing. They also received $45,000 in in-kind services. 

Second place winner Packetized Energy designs and implements user-friendly systems that homes and businesses can use to balance energy supply and demand in the power grid, helping them manage their costs and allowing the grid to run reliably with renewable energy. 

The company’s three co-founders are all faculty in UVM’s College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences: Mads Almassalkhi, Jeff Frolik and Paul Hines. Its chief engineer, Andrew Giroux, earned both B.S. and MS. degrees in the college.

Packetized Energy will use its $15,000 award to hire a software developer.

According to Richard Galbraith, UVM's vice president for research, the two winning entries are evidence not only of the talent of the university’s students and faculty, but of the continuing evolution of the university's culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Both the winners exemplify the ability to identify a need, imagine a solution and make it into reality,” he said. “In the case of Majorwise, that came about through the insight of two UVM students; in the case of Packetized Energy, it was the result of the collaborative efforts of UVM faculty in the College of Engineering and Mathematics. The success of both teams shows that a culture is taking root at UVM that fosters not only pure research but innovation that has commercial application.” 

Another UVM start-up, GreenScale Technologies, was one of the seven finalists in the competition, held May 12 at Main Street Landing in Burlington. Sixty teams entered the LaunchVT competition.

Majorwise earned its way into the finals round by winning the competition’s college round, called LaunchVT Collegiate.

Launch-VT is a program of the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce. The annual competition was first held in 2013.