Student Entrepreneurs Win Funds at Big iDeas Competition

Seven SMU students won monetary sponsorships for their exceptional business ideas through the Big iDeas Demo Day Fair on Feb. 14.

Big iDeas is a competition for SMU undergraduate students that helps foster the development of ideas toward tangible businesses.

EZ Tutor, Curly Solutions, Local Sage and Greener Life each earned $5,000 in start-up funds for their business prototypes. Clean Energy Gambia and univers_ shared the last $5,000 prize.

Sophomore Gavin Watts pitched his idea for Local Sage, which is an online farmer’s market that connects local food lovers with the best food from their region.

“Farmer’s Markets are inconvenient for buyers, and grocery stores provide horrible margins for sellers,” Watts said. “I want to fix that!”

Watts was inspired to create Local Sage this summer after he tried making a hamburger solely with local ingredients. After searching the web for a directory of local brands, he realized there was no way for him to connect himself with them.

“So, I got inspired to create a place where people who didn’t have the time or ability to go to farmers’ markets can still find great local food products,” Watts said.

Watts believes that participating in Big iDeas has showed him that there is no single defined path toward a successful career after college. Likewise, it has exposed him a variety of different skills from marketing to supply chain analytics.

“Entrepreneurship is great because not only do I get to work on something that I’m passionate about, and be surrounded by other passionate entrepreneurs, but also because I get to try anything that I want,” Watts said.

Senior Taylor Slaton helped create GreenerLife with teammates senior Ceydan Kaya and junior Seher Iqbal. GreenerLife is an environmental app that helps users track the amount of trash that they create on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. It helps builds more sustainable habits overtime by creating accountability.

“I was inspired to create this app when I was trying to switch to the zero-waste lifestyle,” Slaton said. “I was trying to track the trash I made, known as performing a trash audit in the community, and I had to do so on paper or a note on my phone. This is extremely irritating, and I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a solution.”

With their $5,000 of start-up funds, Slaton plans to purchase a Mac to develop an iOS app and cover monthly server expenses, monthly tech expenses, and marketing expenses for social media ads and physical marketing. Aligning with their values, Slaton explained how they would also buy office supplies that would keep GreenerLife waste-free.

“My biggest takeaway is that if you have a good product, people will notice. I always thought this system was something I was crazy for wanting until everyone else seemed to want to use it,” Slaton said. “When we won fan favorite at Demo Day, it only solidified that this was something worth working towards.”

To stay updated with GreenerLife, follow them on Instagram @greenerlifeapp or check out their website.

In the Fall, Big iDeas hosts their Pitch Contest where student entrepreneurs can win $1,000. Follow them on Twitter @BigiDeasSMU to stay in the loop about upcoming events.