The accolades continue to spill overThe accolades are spilling in again for Heidi Allstop of Alexandria.
The accolades are spilling in again for Heidi Allstop of Alexandria.
Her brainchild, Supporting Peers in Laid-back Listening (SPILL), recently took first place in the Global Social Venture competition in Berkeley, California.
SPILL is an e-mail-based support system that provides peer-to-peer support for college students.
The students can “spill” confidentially about their problems and get unbiased support, feedback and resources from other students on campus who have dealt with the same problem. Both parties remain anonymous.
Allstop, a 2006 graduate of Jefferson High School in Alexandria, started SPILL in 2009 when she was a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was struggling with some personal issues.
She came up with the idea to start an organization that would offer students an anonymous way to talk about problems with peers who had experienced the same issue.
She registered the idea as a student organization at the college and within a short time, 120 students had signed up. She chose an executive board and set up a confidential website and peer counseling e-mail system.
Since then, Allstop has expanded SPILL to 30 college campuses across the U.S. and Canada. SPILL programs have been launched at Alexandria Community and Technical College, which is the first technical college on board, and at Tastefully Simple, the first corporate SPILL project.
Allstop currently serves as the CEO of SPILL, which has offices in Madison, Wisconsin, where it is based, and Boston, Massachusetts.
But success continues to spill over.
A WORLD CHAMPION
Allstop took SPILL to the next level and entered the Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC), a social business plan competition that provides aspiring entrepreneurs with mentoring, exposure, and prize money to transform their business ideas into positive real-world impact.
The mission of GSVC is to “catalyze new sustainable ventures that address significant social issues, build awareness of the social entrepreneurship field and educate future leaders.”
The competition involves three rounds – an executive summary round; regional finals; and global finals, which took place at the University of California-Berkeley.
During each round, entrepreneurs presented the social, financial and environmental values of their business/organization. They were judged on their company’s social impact, viability (business potential) and overall likelihood of success.
More than 600 contestants from 50 countries went through regional competition in early 2012. After regional, and regional semi-finals and two days of presentations before panels of judges, the field was narrowed to 15 finalists.
SPILL was the only team from the U.S. to make it into the final six. Of the top six, SPILL then went on to take first place – earning a $25,000 prize.
After winning the competition, Allstop spent time in California meeting with venture capitalists interested in investing in SPILL. She hopes to continue to build and expand the online, confidential peer support system.
“I am so excited for the future of SPILL, as winning this competition will open many new doors, not only around the U.S., but the world,” she said.
The prize money will be used to develop a pilot SPILL program this summer for student veterans.