A new feminine hygiene product that would cut waste, save money, is more hygienic, and would benefit lower-income women was selected as the winning idea at The Next Launch Wednesday afternoon in Fishers, Indiana. The business plan competition involved 19 student teams from eight high schools in Indiana and Illinois. It is sponsored by The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur.
The winning concept, called Lily Pod, netted Fishers High School student Drew Jarvis $25,000. Lily Pod would replace tampons and menstrual cups, she told the panel of three judges. The washable and reusable plastic device could be worn for up to 12 hours, she added.
It would cost $2 to make and would retail for $24.99. Part of that cost would cover an additional Lily Pod, which would be given to a lower-income woman, she said. There are 84 million women between the ages of 10 and 50 in the United States, and 16 million of them live in poverty.
Ninety percent of the women in the United States use tampons, which is approximately $35.4 billion annually. That is an average of $5,000 per woman over her lifetime, she explained, adding that capturing just 1 percent of the market would generate $350 million.
The Lily Pod would also reduce waste by nearly 300 pounds per person. If 20 percent of the women used Lily Pod, it would take 120 million pounds out of the waste stream and save an average of $2.4 billion dollars.
Jarvis said it would take approximately $55,000 to design and tool the Lily Pod. She would use online marketing and social networking to help spread the word in the initial marketing plan.
The first runner-up award and $10,000 prize went to Spark by Camille Scrine, Cole Jiaras, and Lauren Schwaab of New Trier High School. The mobile app would be an event parking solution similar to Airbnb. People attending sporting events or concerts would be able to reserve a parking space ahead of time.
This would be especially helpful in areas that don’t have parking garages available, especially in college settings. The homeowners surrounding a sporting or music venue could register with Spark and people making reservations would pay $13 to $15 to park. The profits would come of the company’s 3 to 5 percent share of that fee, they explained.
The second runner-up award and $5,000 prize went to The Oil Magnet by Marisa Patel-O’Connor, Eden Gorevoy, and Sol Hwangbo of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. The concept would be used to clean up oil spills in water on both the large and small scale. By using floating booms and placing magnetized nanoparticles in the oil, companies would be able to use magnets to keep the oil in one location and suction it off the top of the water. The nanoparticles could then be removed and the oil recycled.
With a patent pending, the girls demonstrated how the nanoparticles work in a test tube filled with water and oil with the particles mixed in. The nanoparticles are already used in the medical field, they said, which cuts down the research and development costs. They are planning on tests, including tests in salt water. They would sell the mixture to oil companies, clean-up firms, and other entities involved in environmental spills.
Culver had three groups presenting and two made it into the final round of nine presenters. The first round saw the 19 teams be divided into three smaller groups and present before two judges. Each group had three teams advance to the final round.
Advancing for Culver were Lucas Carroll with Stay Connected and John Wakeland, Crawford Frutkin, and Caleb Barrett with Call Secure. Stay Connected is an application designed to keep specialized groups of casual friends (such as graduating classes) in touch with current addresses, emails, and phone numbers. Pins would show on a map to identify people in specific locations. Call Secure is a phone screening system that will block unwanted calls.
STEM Shot by Harrison Steck and Corbin Steck was not selected for the final round. Their concept was an educational application that would allow teachers and administrators to build communities of learners in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics field from the elementary through high school levels. The systems would allow the groups to continue to grow larger as needed. Culver’s teams advanced through the Miclot Business Competition in March.
Other schools participating were the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, International School of Indiana, Fishers High School, New Trier High School, Providence Cristo Rey High School, and Shortridge IB Magnet School. This is the second year for The Next Launch, which was hosted by Launch Fishers.
Launch Fishers Executive Director John Wechsler said he was impressed by the combination of business ideas and social conscience exhibited by many of the projects. The judges in the final round – Dr. Craig Downing of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Kristi Mitchell of Butler University’s Lacy School of Business, and Mark Lawrence of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce – told the students they should look at protecting their business concepts by filing for patents.