Mobile applications that help connect people with similar interests took the top two slots in the What’s Your Big Idea? elevator competition sponsored by The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur.
Harrison Steck ’18 (Decatur, Ill.) took first with myConnections, an application that would help people new to a community meet others with similar interests. Jack Walsh ’17 (Crown Point, Ind.) received second place with an application, JustPlay, that would help people find participatory sports leagues for themselves or their children.
Helen Johnston ’18 (Park City, Utah) received third place for MedEase, a combination app that would help senior citizens, especially those living alone, with taking their medication at appropriate times.
Steck received a $1,000 Amazon gift card, Walsh a $500 card, and Johnston a $50 card, respectively. Each competitor was given three minutes to make the initial presentation, the time it takes to ride from the first floor to the top floor in a typical elevator, with a follow-up session to answer judges questions.
Steck told judges Tina Neal and Kevin Carroll the average American moves 11 times. Among the problems associated with such frequent relocation is finding people who share common interests. He said there is a real issue with “relocation depression” due to this lack of personal contact. The development of the app would allow people to include their interests, which would then search its database for those people in the area that share those preferences.
Advertisers could use the app to introduce people to their services, which would supply revenue. Business travelers could also use the application to network with others, especially in other countries.
Walsh’s application would be used to match people with an interest in playing sports with others. The players would be matched up according to playing ability, availability, location, and other criteria. Leagues could be formed and a schedule and notifications about games could be sent out using the app.
Parents would be able to find soccer, softball, and tee-ball leagues for their children using similar information. People would pay a fee that would cover the costs of the app, along with any associated costs with facilities rental, league fees, etc., he said.
Johnston said up to 40 percent of people 50 and over are taking as many as five kinds of medicine daily. In the case of the elderly, many people are taking pills prescribed by four or five different doctors and not taking them properly could raise major health issues. MedEase would be a combination of a telephone reminder service and a Bluetooth pillbox that would help people in taking the proper medication.
A telephone call would notify the person that it is time to take his or her medication and a special blinking light on the pillbox would indicate which pill to take. Profits would come through insurance coverage and healthcare providers since it would cut down on medication errors.
Other competitors included George Cruickshank ’18 (Anchorage, Alaska) and Ryker Knight ’18 (Coronado, Calif.) with a collapsible outrigger kayak; Yu Jin Lee ’17 (Seoul, South Korea) with a social entrepreneur consulting service; and Sobe Uwajeh ’18 (Matteson, Ill.) with a database service that helps people find movies by actors or famous lines.
This was the ninth year for the competition. Neal is the principal and managing partner of Perseverance Capital Advisors and Carroll is the founder of Placement Loop.