Major start-up competition victory puts student entrepreneurs at $3.2 million in funding

By Alyssa Turner

Published: Jun 1, 2021 2:18:00 PM

Mit Patel and Daniel Mazur Mit Patel and Daniel Mazur
Mit Patel and Daniel Mazur are having a good year.

The judges of the Rice Business Plan Competition, the largest and richest student startup competition in the world, recently awarded the mechanical engineering seniors top prize for their mobile application SwiftSku, a big data solution for non-franchised convenience stores, known as independent c-stores.

The 2021 virtual competition between 54 startups featured four days of elevator pitches and three finalist rounds. It was the first time an Auburn University team has swept the awards at the global competition.

The childhood friends, both 2017 graduates of Hoover High School, walked away with nearly $500,000. SwiftSku won the $350,000 GOOSE Capital Investment Grand Prize, the $50,000 Business Angel Minority Association Investment Prize, the $25,000 RG Advisory Partners’ CFO Consulting Prize, the digital category of the Mercury Fund Elevator Pitch Competition, the $10,000 Baker Botts’ prize and third place in the Anbarci Family People’s Choice Awards.

Add that to the investment haul at the conclusion of after finishing earned earlier this year through Y Combinator, a world-renowned startup accelerator that has helped launch companies like Airbnb, DoorDash and Dropbox, and the duo now boasts $3.2 million in funding for a company not even two years old.

“The money we have raised lets us hire stellar engineering talent, grow our sales team and experiment with parallel opportunities we are uniquely positioned to take on,” Mazur said.

The idea for SwiftSku was born in August 2019 when Patel and Mazur realized the potential of a big data solution for non-franchised convenience stores, known as independent c-stores. Patel’s parents have worked in the convenience store industry for many years.

“I've worked in the c-store industry along with them and noticed a lot of inefficiencies as well as the potential to utilize big data collection and optimize their processes,” said Patel, who is also majoring in accounting. “I reached out to Daniel and said, ‘There's all these different problems going on and we've got the skillset to fix them for people.’”

And they are — more and more every day.

SwiftSku now serves more than 250 customers, offering c-stores a centralized hub to analyze scan data from customer purchases, a customer loyalty program and big data analytics.

The platform also offers a solution to problems plaguing point-of-sale data tracking in the U.S. Despite c-stores making up a third of American retail commerce, transaction data is deleted after 90 days, forcing owners to collect lengthy summary reports at the end of each workday.

“With our solution this priceless transaction data that represents 3.1% of America’s GDP is preserved,” Patel said. “We help owners manage their stores with our back-office solution that lets them manage their inventory, price book and even remotely manage their fuel pumps. Additionally, we facilitate the data interchange between stores and brands.”

The company is not only bridging data gaps between brands, retailers and consumers — it's bridging language barriers.

Of the 153,000 convenience stores in the United States, 96,000 are independently owned; of those, 93% are operated by Indian immigrants. Patel and Mazur developed SwiftSku to serve this majority by providing customer support in Hindi, Gujarati and English.

“Having finished our fundraise, we’re excited to continue building solutions for mom and pop shops, empowering them to compete against the Goliath chains of the industry," Mazur said.

  

  

Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson, jdh0123@auburn.edu, 334-844-3591

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