SMU Announces Winners of ‘Big iDeas’ Competition

The students business ideas range from an app that incentivizes people to stay off their phones while driving to a bike-share program for SMU.

Southern Methodist University has awarded a select group of students with seed and startup funding for coming up with “Big iDeas.”

Big iDeas is a two-part competition hosted by SMU that gives undergraduate students a chance to pitch their ideas and business plans. Winners received funding to get their ventures off the ground.

“We want our students to think outside of the box and become world changers.” 
Susan Kress

“This is part of our Engaged Learning tree and our branch for innovation and entrepreneurship,” Director of Engaged Learning Susan Kress told The SMU Daily Campus. “We want our students to think outside of the box and become world changers.”

Students had the choice of entering into the pitch or business plan competition. Students with a pitch presented their ideas to the judges while the business competitors had to develop a prototype or pilot and create a business plan for it.

All ideas had to contribute to the betterment of society and solve a problem of some kind, according to competition rules.

Big iDeas

Winner’s of Southern Methodist University’s Big iDeas competition will develop their ideas over the course of several months and present the finished product at the Big iDeas Demo Day Fair. [Photo courtesy of Southern Methodist University]

There was a total of 10 pitch winners:

  • Just Drive, by Neha Husein, will be an app that incentivizes drivers to stay off their phones.
  • Signo Capital, by Alex Williams, plans to help you invest safely through the crypto market.
  • Alternative Website Monetization, by Luke Wood, would use an in-browser enthereum miner to cut the irrelevant ads and give users more personalized content.
  • The Townhall Project, by Geehsikha Pathak, will be a discussion site on an app-based platform to facilitate understanding and interpretation of news within a non-threatening environment.
  • The Happy Institute, by Kaya Reingold, is scaling her program to increase kindness, compassion, and empathy to improve the world in which we live.
  • Spot, by Alex Martin and his team, is creating an exclusive site for SMU students to safely buy and sell goods and services.
  • Forust, by Visakh Madathil, is creating a social impact network to streamline how social organizations connect, communicate, and effectively use their resources.
  • Blvd Bicycle Project, by Ryan Bostick, plans to bring a shared bicycle transportation to SMU students after completing a swipe-to-unlock system.
  • SMU Robotics Club, by Jaime Diez, is creating a way to teach middle school students engineering and problem-solving skills through robotics.
  • Dallas Community Bail Fund, by Greg Guggenmos, will ensure that bail and justice is provided for all even the poorest citizens.


The business plan prize was awarded to these two startups:

  • City Mixr, created by John Mullin, an improved app that connects people to events in their city
  • Barhop, created by Brandon McFarlane and Jean Brigonnet, is an app that combines SMS texting with web application to streamline ordering and payment of drinks at a crowded bar

The amount of seed funding for pitch winners totaled $10,000, while both business plan winners received $5,000 for their startups.

The winning students will develop their ideas over the course of several months and present the finished product at the Big iDeas Demo Day Fair in February.

“We have students that pitched four years ago that now have their own companies. It’s great to see how this event has propelled successful business careers for our alumni,” Kress told the Daily Campus.

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