From affordable and applicable STEM products for everyday life to a dating app that equips user with a wingman and encourages in-person interactions, UTD students presented a variety of startup ideas during Tuesday’s Big Idea Competition.
The University of Texas at Dallas’ Big Idea Competition, held by the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE), gives students the opportunity to develop and pitch their most innovative business ideas. Launched in 2007, the BIC has quickly become one of North Texas’s largest university startup competitions.
The BIC is one of a variety of programs and events that the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) offers for students, faculty, alumni and the community. Last year’s competition had over 250 applicants willing to pitch—one in three were women—and $115,000 given away to winning startup pitches. Over 1,200 people attended the 2018 Big Idea Competition.
Last years BIC winner, Brian Hoang, came back this year to show how far he has come since the competition. Hoang, CEO and co-founder of SurviVR, has raised over $100,000 in funding and has been awarded the 2018 Texas Business Hall of Fame scholarship.
The “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition brings undergrad and graduate students together to pitch to a panel of esteemed judges for an opportunity to win cash and scholarship awards. This year, six student teams were selected to participate:
- OhmMaker: A STEM education startup inspiring middle and high school students with engineering project kits that are applicable to everyday lives.
- IDA: A platform to help female entrepreneurs achieve their business goals that uses AI for personalized insights and consistent progress.
- Comely: A dating/social hybrid designed for people who believe in-person is the best way to gauge chemistry.
- CodAR: An augmented reality platform for learning and evaluating technical skills.
- ResumePuppy: A cloud solution that ensures resumes not only look good, but also move past an initial screening.
- Access My Research: A nonprofit social platform connecting one’s research with the world.
The six teams presented their companies in front of a panel of esteemed judges, which included Shiza Shahid, CEO and co-founder of the Malala Fund with Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai.
“I would hope to offer students who are presenting any insight that helps them navigate the bad parts of it a little better—the stress, the anxiety,” Shahid told Dallas Innovates before the competition. She encouraged each student to “fail upwards.”
Shahid, while talking about companies formed by a homogenous group of people, spoke about the importance of UTD’s diverse campus.
“I really admire the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that exists here. This is such a diverse campus,” she said. “People coming here are really looking to master a skill.”
The other judges were Dayakar Puskoor, founder and managing partner at Naya Ventures; Samantha Colletti, SVP at Silicon Valley Bank; Eric Ho, director of strategic initiatives at Capital One Financial Services; and Chase Murphy, partner in the tax practice of Baker Tilly. The judges were responsible for determining the awards, which also included the Entrepreneurship Awards and UTDesign Startup Challenge award.
Here’s who won.
Student Pitch Competition Awards
- Grand Prize of $25,000 awarded to ResumePuppy
- Third Prize of $5,000 to Access My Research
- Innovate(her): $5,000 to Leg Up Legal
- Biggest Social Impact: $5,000 to Rakkasan Tea Company
- Biggest Idea: $5,000 to Access My Research
UTDesign Startup Awards
- $15,000 to Beauty Tech
- $20,000 to Fluid impluse
This article was updated on Dec. 4, 2019 to remove Ohm Maker from the list of winners. Ohm Maker was later disqualified from the competition and forfeited its $10,000 second place winnings and $20,000 prize in the UTDesign Startup Challenge.
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