The H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge Championships

Actions Panel

The H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge Championships

Watch Rice University student startup pitches, network with like-minded entrepreneurs and innovators, and vote for your favorite venture!

By Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

When and where

Date and time

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 · 5:30 - 9pm CDT


The Anderson-Clarke Center’s Hudspeth Auditorium 6100 Main Street Rice University Houston, TX 77005

About this event

Join Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and support Rice University student startups at the H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge (NRLC) Championships on Wednesday, April 20th! Six student finalists will pitch their ventures for the chance to win a share of $75,000+ in equity-free funding!

Don’t miss out on watching student pitches, networking with like-minded entrepreneurs and innovators in Houston, and voting for your favorite venture to win the Audience Choice Award.

Attendance is open to Rice students, Rice alumni, friends of Rice, and the whole Houston entrepreneurial community! Seats are limited, so get your tickets while you still can!

Competition starts at 5:30PM with a reception to follow at 7PM.


Liu Idea Lab for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (Lilie)

Rice Alumni | Entrepreneurs & Innovators (RAEI)


Dacia and Lanham Napier, in honor of Al Napier

The Liu Family, in honor of Frank Liu Jr.

MBA alumna Runsi Sen ’04

Chevron Technology Ventures


The best access point for the campus is Entrance #8 at the intersection of University Boulevard and Stockton Drive. Free parking is available in West Lot 5.

Parking: Turn into campus at Entrance #8 and take your second left. Continue past the Anderson Clarke Center, which will be on your left, and take your first left (there is no stop sign). At the next stop sign take a right and a parking attendant will direct you into West Lot 5.

Drop off: As you pass the Anderson Clarke Center you will notice a driveway circle on your left which can be utilized for drop-offs.

Volunteers and signage will direct attendees to Hudspeth Auditorium, which is located directly adjacent to the Anderson Clarke Center.

Interactive Rice University Campus Map



Alfredo Costilla '23 (Innovation Fellow from Professor Xia 'Ben' Hu's DATA Lab), Daochen 'Frank' Zha '23, and Kwei-Herng 'Henry' Lai '23 are the founders of AutoEdge, an AI-powered quality assurance platform that helps small and medium manufacturers to quickly detect defects and provide clear actionable items to fix inefficiencies.

Berman Foods

Delaney Berman '22 is the founder of Berman Foods, which crafts irresistible artisanal plant-based cheeses and spreads from wholesome, nutritious ingredients.


Neethu Pottackal '24 (Innovation Fellow from Professor Pulickel Ajayan’s Lab) and Aasha Zinke '24 are the founders of EpiFresh, whose healthy and sustainable protein-based coating doubles the shelf-life of fruit and vegetables, reducing waste by delaying decay as it moves from the farm to your fridge.


David Akpakwu '23 and Chinedum Peter Ezeakacha '23 are the founders of GradGenius, designed to give the end-user a one-stop-shop experience to selecting schools based on personal interests.


Stephanie Pons '22, Kurt Reece '22, Ryan Jensen '22 are the founders of Guildata, which provides global health organizations with data that shows the greatest return on investment, by reduction in morbidity and mortality, for public health interventions in a non-disease centric approach.

Helix Earth Technologies

Rawand Rasheed '23 (Innovation Fellow from Professor Daniel Preston’s Lab) is the founder of Helix Earth Technologies, helping save our planet by helping power plant operators reduce their plant water use and subsequently reducing their overall operating costs.


Thomas Ball

Thomas is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Austin-based Venture Capital firm Next Coast Ventures. Tom has been in the technology industry for over 20 years as an entrepreneur, angel investor and professional venture capitalist.

Lisa Besserman

Lisa is the Founder of Startup Buenos Aires accelerator (acquired), has been named as Business Insider’s “Top 100 Most Influential Women in Tech”, and the “Business Innovator of Latin America”. Currently, Lisa serves as the Managing Director at Expa, investing in pre-seed to series A startups.

Xiaodi Zhang

Xiaodi is the Chief Product Officer at 1stDibs, the world’s leading marketplace for extraordinary design. Prior to 1stDibs, Xiaodi held leadership roles at Gilt and eBay. She also spent five years working in China's hyper-competitive ecommerce market from 2005-2010.

About the organizer