The stage at the X-Squared pitch competition

Thomas More University Faculty Join Local Universities and Business Leaders for X-Squared High School Pitch Competition

In support of innovation and entrepreneurship in the region, faculty and staff from Thomas More University were honored to join representatives from the University of Cincinnati, the University of Dayton, Mount St. Joseph University, Xavier University, and leaders from Cintrifuse, 1809 Capital, Alloy Development Co., Pieces for Developers, and Main Street Ventures, among others, as judges for the inaugural X-Squared High School Pitch Competition. Participants from Thomas More included professors Jeni Al Bahrani, Yvan Demosthenes, Gregory Mazza, and Phillip Webster, and staff member Marian Rice.

Thomas More faculty members Phillip Webster, Jeni Al Bahrani, Yvan Demosthenes, and Greg Mazza performing as judges at the X-Squared High School Pitch Competition.

The event occurred on Jan. 27, 2024, at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio and was the result of a partnership between Square1 and St. Xavier High School’s Leo H. Gerbus ’53 Center for Entrepreneurs and Innovation, and Career ConneXions program. Organized by Timothy “Mac” McDonald, Chair of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at St. Xavier High School, and Keith Schneider, founder and president of Square1, Inc., the competition showcased the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation of student-founders from 35 startups representing nine high schools in the region. The participating high schools included Beechwood Independent Schools, Covington Catholic High School, DePaul Cristo Rey High School, Ignite Institute, Notre Dame Academy (Park Hills, Kentucky), Ross High School, St. Xavier High School, Ursuline Academy-Cincinnati, and William Henry Harrison High School. “The quality of pitches from these student-founders was outstanding. Their innovative spirit and potential as future entrepreneurial leaders are exactly what we look for at Thomas More ‘s entrepreneurship and innovation program,” shares Jeni Al Bahrani, director of the Zembrodt Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University.

Admissions representative Marian Rice at the X-Squared High School Pitch Competition.

Jeff Berding, co-founder, president, and co-CEO of FC Cincinnati, delivered a keynote address in which he shared his start-up story and offered insights and experiences with the young entrepreneurs. Student workshops were also available to assist with resume and interview skills. The event concluded with the announcement of winners in two divisions. Congratulations to the student founders of the startups who emerged in their respective categories. The top-performing teams were awarded both cash team prizes and college scholarships for each member who chooses to attend one of the participating colleges.  

Thomas More University has partnered with Square1 since 2022 in support of the yearly Next High School Final Pitch competition made possible by sponsor US Bank. This event returns to the Crestview Hills campus on March 19, 2024. Honoree and speaker Paul Powers, founder and CEO of Physna, will be on hand. Students compete to win scholarships to Thomas More with the first-place team receiving full tuition, and second and third place teams receiving partial tuition. As the innovation destination, Thomas More University remains committed to fostering collaboration and supporting the development of entrepreneurial talent in the community, empowering the next generation of innovators and change-makers by joining forces with the regions thriving start-up ecosystem.