The Sports Zone was once again packed for UMBC's fall Idea Competition held on November 12th. Out of many ideas submitted, the top eight were selected for the final competition. These ideas were pitched to a standing room only crowd and a panel of three judges. Contestants were given a strict 3 minutes to present their ideas.
The big winner of the night was team Honni which included members Marios Levi, Travis Askins, Gianni Cappelletti, and Robert Johnson. They represented the First Year Seminar class that came up with the idea this semester. Honni: P2P Local Produce Finder, connects consumers and buyers with farmers, growers, and sellers. The health-conscious consumer selects any produce they are looking for, and the app immediately locates farmers and backyard growers within a certain radius which sell exactly what the buyer wants. Modeled off of Uber and Airbnb, Honni is a peer-to-peer service, meaning even a small time community-gardener can sell their produce through the app once they get verified. While practicing for the presentation, Levi said his team was nervous, but when it came to the real pitch at the competition, he said "the pitch on the actual stage was the best presentation we had done". Their idea earned them $750 which will be given to the First Year Seminar class to support turning Honni into an actual business.
Jackie Airhart won second place for her idea Roll Call. Roll Call would help professors keep track of attendance in classes by using chip timers that attach to a UMBC student's redcard ID. When a student crosses through a classroom doorway they would record their presence in the class by waving their card at a sensor at the door. This would also be helpful in times of crisis when people want to know where students are located. Jackie's idea earned her a $500 reward. Jackie said "I was really surprised and delighted that they picked my submission as a finalist. I entered because I always thought RFID technology was interesting."
Patrick Dignan earned the third place spot with his idea CommonInvesting, a subscription based website that is geared towards average investors. All the information comes from the moves and decisions the top 1% of the population is making. Patrick said "for students interested in entrepreneurship, the Idea Competition is a great way to both improve your idea, and meet people that truly want to see it become a reality. Although somewhat nerve racking at times, the event sincerely helped me, and will undoubtedly act as a stepping stone in my pursuit of becoming an entrepreneur."
There was a tie for the Best Presentation of the evening. Emily Schultheis presented AdPlay, which is a website platform that enables marketers to gain customer feedback on their product packaging and/or advertising posters. Players would earn money for each game played. Emily said "The Idea Competition presents a capital opportunity to build confidence, explore different techniques for public speaking, and practice engaging an audience of mixed academic backgrounds. Public speaking has never come naturally to me, but my technique has improved tremendously over the last few years by participating in the Idea Competition and other opportunities supplied to me through the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. I'm very grateful for the chance I had to present this year!" Her confidence and poise earned her $250.
Wei Liu, Jiayong Lin, and Lunzhong Yuan also tied for Best Presentation with their idea Bark Park. Bark Park is a Uber style parking service that can be run on mobile devices. The Bark Park team would park cars for students and faculties for a charge. This team also earned $250. After the competition Liu said "propose your idea, one day it may come true."
A special thanks to alums Rob Baruch, Stephanie Day and Jim Kukla who were our judges for this year's Idea Competition. And to all the students who came out to listen and help select the winners!