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Meet the 2023 Team

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Veda Swaminathan | I3 Co-Founder
Aarya Dhru and Veda Swaminathan

Aarya and Veda started this competition in high school after learning about the catastrophic impacts of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic on the small business communities around them. They observed the struggles that many entrepreneurs had with adapting to the online market place and to the rapid changes in digital marketing. 

As community minded individuals, Aarya and Veda searched for a solution from the community. Looking to their peers, they noticed the mass untapped potential of school students who were already well-versed in the merits and uses of digital infrastructure such as mobile apps, websites, and social media marketing. 

Thus, the I3 Competition was born: an innovative solution for small businesses who need help bolstering their digital infrastructure and students who need an outlet for their digital genius. 

Aarya Dhru | I3 Co-Founder
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Institute For Entrepreneurial Leadership

The Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL), founded in 2002, is an independent, not-for-profit organization that supports economic development through entrepreneurship. They are experts in creating and implementing small business programming in support of larger economic development objectives. The organization's mission is to eradicate the systemic barriers that prevent access to the knowledge, networks, and capital required for entrepreneurial success and wealth creation. 

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Hi everyone! My name is Eric Shi and I am currently a first year Data Science & Math major at Northeastern University. I would be vastly interested in working with any group here, but I do have much more knowledge pertaining website development. On campus, I am working with a startup called Invictuss to completely redesign their website.

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Franchesca Vilmenay

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Hi everyone! I’m a first-year at Northeastern University studying Business Administration and Health Science with a concentration in Health Care Management and Consulting. In the past, I’ve worked in Talent Acquisition/Human Resources and I’ve also done social media management and consulting for small family businesses; my skill set lies in social media marketing and website creation. While studying at Northeastern, I work as a sales associate at an international retail company and I enjoy photography and dancing. I’m looking forward to collaborating with you all!


Akaash Babu

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Hey guys! My name is Akaash and I am  a first-year studying Business Economics and Data Science at the University of Chicago. I have experience working in government, politics, and finance. I am interested in aiding with technology consulting, website creation, and social media marketing. Outside of academics, I enjoy hiking, biking, and reading a good book.

Past and Present Judges 

Jill is the co-founder and CEO of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL), based in Newark, NJ. IFEL, founded in 2002, is an independent, nonprofit organization that supports economic development through entrepreneurship. As a 30 year champion for
black businesses, Jill is a pioneering voice for inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems and is creating a new paradigm for the access to capital conversation. She is the driving force behind a new initiative, the Making of Black Angels, to drive diversity and inclusion within the investor ecosystem.


Jill is a member of the Women’s Forum of New York, Women Business
Collaborative, and Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs. She also serves on
the board of the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey.


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Jill Johnson
Head Judge

James V. Harper is Managing Partner and Head of Debt Capital Markets at BCP. Prior to becoming Head of DCM in 2015, he was Head of Research for several years. Before joining BCP Securities in 2001, he was a VP at New York-based boutique investment bank The Weston Group, where he held a variety of roles in corporate finance, advisory, and research focused on Latin American Eurobonds.


Mr. Harper holds an MBA in Finance and Accounting from Columbia University as well as a MBA in International Business from the Universidad de las Américas-Puebla and a B.A. from Dartmouth College, James is also a CFA Charter holder.

James Harper

Madhunika Raghavan is the co-founder of Envision Health Partners, a full service market research agency which focuses on helping pharmaceutical and biotech companies prepare for a successful launch. 

Ms. Raghavan has worked to build healthcare market research competencies from the ground up, scaling them into valuable client partnerships, as well as led international high-performance teams to deliver business insights to senior leaders. 


She has 20+ years of research experience supporting major global brand marketing activities.

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Madhunika Raghavan
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Cheryl Floyd

Cheryl Floyd is an entrepreneur, spiritual healer/adviser and a pioneer across all her fields. Whether by being one of the first women in the country to be a Varsity Letterman on the Men’s Football Team, leading a top 20 Women’s Soccer team at Wake Forest University, or being a leader in the Title Nine movement, Cheryl has spent her life to date clearing new paths and setting new boundaries. After working with several Fortune 500 clients in New York City, Cheryl launched two small businesses.


Outside of work, Cheryl spends time with her four daughters, has become a Reiki Master, and counsels individuals on personal growth, wellness and finding their own limitless boundaries.

Moira started her business career working for an international trading company that focused on the Japanese metals marketplace.  After receiving her MBA from NYU,  she switched gears to spend the next 20 years working in the world of media trading and  corporate barter.


 Working for leading companies in this space, Moira structured unique trade transactions that  solved distressed asset challenges and brought measurable value to her clients, many of them being Fortune 500 companies in the CPG and Retail industries.  

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Moira Snover 

Mentorship Team

This year we have dramatically expanded our mentorship team. Headed by Vinodh Swaminathan, this team will be working one-on-one with our students to help scale their projects, grow their impact, and benefit the businesses in the most optimal way possible. 

Mr. Vinodh Swaminathan is the Global Lead Partner at KPMG and headed the Innovation & Enterprise Solutions team, where he led the firm’s Cognitive Innovation initiatives. He is a leading authority on market development, innovation and growth management, with more than 20 years of experience in strategy, operations and business transformation. He helps his clients leverage technologies including cognitive computing, artificial intelligence and robotics to enable digital labor.

Mr. Swaminathan will be hosting a series of workshops throughout the I3 Competition process to provide a space for teams to ask questions about their projects, learn business development strategies, practice their pitch, and more. He will be acting as an impartial advisor and mentor to all participating teams and leading our mentorship team. 

Head Mentor
Vinodh Swaminathan
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