Big iDeas contest winners announced

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By: Caroline Mendes

Eleven winners have been announced for the grand prize at the Engaged Learning Big iDeas Pitch Contest held Oct. 31. More than 40 students participated in the contest.

The Big iDeas Contest offers a platform for students to share their one-of-a-kind proposals in hopes of winning $1,500 to further their entrepreneurial expedition. The contest awards up to $20,000 overall to students who win with their
business ideas.

“The Big iDeas program is a place where students can experience ‘safe’ failures,” judge Simon S. Mak said.

Students participating are able to try new things and learn, receive feedback and encouragement and not create any permanent damage to their reputations if their idea fails.

The Big iDeas contest addresses one of the key problems most budding entrepreneurs and students face, which is gaining access to seed capital.

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“Big iDeas has a three tier process that enables students, should they continue to apply and be accepted through each stage, up to $11,000 to start and grow a Big iDea,” said Director of Arts Entrepreneurship Program and a Big iDeas judge Jim Hart. “Not only do students have access to such funds, but can also use the new CUBE incubator, where students can office, have meetings, plan out their concepts, learn new skills and be mentored.”

This is a relatively risk-free process for students. If they win and receive the $1,000 in seed money from their pitch and do not accomplish their envisioned goals in full, SMU does not expect them to give the money back.

“We recognize that entrepreneurship is a game of risk and there is potential for failure. Big iDeas sometimes do fail and there is a great amount of learning the students gain from such experience,” Hart said.

The judges are looking for ideas that are big, bring value to society, make an impact, have a clear plan that can be put into action in 3 months, and are well presented.

“It’s a really cool experience because you get to engage with other students that are trying to make an impact, as well as professors who are interested in vetting your venture concept,” contest winner Andrew Burgess of ECHO said.

Burgess along with his partners Santiago Martinez and Wade Washmon, won with their concept of creating a music-sharing platform that motivates users to purchase and share music from its registered artists. The program generates revenue for both the artist and the listener.

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Big iDeas bring a whole new dimension to Dallas because SMU is the university of the city and Dallas provides an urban laboratory to make Big iDeas happen. Students are able to experience the thrills and challenges some place they’re comfortable with, preparing them to tackle bigger ventures later on.

“By the time they graduate, whether they either have succeeded or not, they have tried something new, learned by doing, and SMU has offered them help along the way,” Director of Engaged Learning Susan Kress said. “This is a gift… And some will have early smashing successes.”

The 2014-2015 Big iDeas Contest winners are:

• BIOLUM SCIENCES- Edward Allegra, Miguel Quimbar, Jack Reynolds. Biolum Sciences is a revolutionary smartphone–based imaging system that can detect the presence of asthma and reduce the current 40% misdiagnosis of asthma in the U.S.

• FULLY PRESENT- Kelly Ann Buddecke, Katherine Bentfield. Fully Present is an activity monitor and notification system for the phone, recording the amount of time the user spends on messages, calls and social media accounts and notifying the public when the user chooses to turn it off and be fully present in the real world.

• ECHO- Andrew Burgess, Santiago Martinez, Wade Washmon. Echo is a music-sharing platform that motivates users to purchase and share music from its registered artists, generating revenue for both the artist and the listener.

• THE NARI PROJECT- Priya Chowdhary, Ashley Wali. The Nari Project raises awareness about violence against women by donating kits of essential items to women in shelters in Dallas and abroad, and is now strengthening its link to the SMU campus.

• SMU FOOD- Samuel Hunter, Gavin Pham, Conrad Appel. SMU Food is an online app that centralizes eating options on campus, including when the various campus cafeterias are open, daily menu options, service provided, user ratings and comments.

• KUNDALINI- Kymberly Johnson, Kristen Carreno, Mark Lafferty. Kundalini is a wellness drink made of natural ingredients, free of caffeine, gluten, excess sugar and chemicals that detoxifies the body and increases metabolism.

• MAXXED OUT BY M.A.K.- Maya Jones, Janay Higgins. Maxxed out by M.A.K. creates custom jewelry for every occasion, crafted with care and made to empower, giving back to society through its new girls outreach center in Fort Worth.

• DVR FOR COLLEGE- Eric Straw, Eugene Massad. DVR for College is a DVR for college students subscription and provider free that only requires a cable, an Ethernet cord and HDMI.

• OUT & ABOUT- Renita Thapa, Sam Hubbard, Raz Friman. Out & About is an app that promotes local businesses and organizations by exposing its users to what is going on in the community for easy planning, exploring and getting to know the local area.

• DOODLE BOARD- Jorge Valdez, Joshua Musgrove. Doodle Board is a collaborative, cross-platform, web app drawing tool for use in the classroom, in studios, at conferences, special events or even in coffee houses that allows for shared drawing of ideas through the internet.

• HELPPLE- Austin Wells, Irisa Ona. Helpple is an app that connects people who need help with people who are offering to help, be it tutoring, moving furniture, getting volunteers, building the next big idea.

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