$10,000 Awarded to an Eclectic Assortment of Mason Inventions
OnYou, a mobile phone accessory that combines a compression sleeve with a magnetic case, won the grand prize of $5,000 in the 8th Dean’s Business Plan Competition sponsored by George Mason University’s School of Business and Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. OnYou also won the $1,000 Audience Choice Award.
The competition runner up was Iron Goat, formerly E-Mow, an autonomous agricultural machine that bales hay, runs on pelleted hay and reduces costs to farmers by 30 percent. The prize for second place was $2,000.
In all, $10,000 was awarded to start-up companies with relationships with George Mason’s entrepreneurial and innovation programs at the School of Business. Competitors included Mason undergraduates, graduate students and recent alumni. Majors represented included business, public policy, communications, health administration, music, game design, and conflict analysis and resolution, among others.
The Social Impact Award of $2,000 went to Jade Garrett’s Positive Deviancy, which creates technology that allows children with autism to creatively interact with computers.
OnYou founder Scott Bauer, a master’s student concentrating on social entrepreneurship, said the prize money, which comes on the heels of a successful $20,556 Kickstarter campaign, was most welcome, and will be spent to defray unexpected expenses for OnYou.
“It helps to cover that little margin of error,” Bauer said.
Garrett, an applied information technology major, is developing a line of plush toys with computer controllers to help autistic children, said the prize money will allow her to build 20 prototype devices to deliver to families and organizations for testing and feedback.
Seven finalists were chosen from a field of 40 business plan submissions. Each of the young companies’ representatives took the stage at the Arlington, Va., headquarters of the venture capital firm Disruption Corporation to make their pitch to a panel of judges and an audience of about 100. Contestants had seven minutes to pitch and 10 minutes of questions from the judges.
Judges included John Backus, founder and managing partner of New Atlantic Ventures; Serge Matta, BS Finance ’96, chief executive of comScore; Peggy Styer, chief executive officer of Raytheon Blackbird Technologies; Amber Wason, co-founder of electric bike maker Riide; and Paul Singh, BS Computer Sciences ’06, founder of Disruption Corporation and the Crystal Tech Fund.
“I’m very proud of our students who have these amazing thoughts and ideas and are translating them into action,” School of Business dean Sarah E. Nutter said in presenting the awards.
The finalists, she said, reflected a decade of goals at Mason to “create an ecosystem across the university in entrepreneurship and innovation, one that unites the students and faculty not just at the business school but other units to create a vibrant community.”
Other competitors making it to the final round included IQ Technologies, which uses data analytics to connect employers with military veteran job seekers; Create More Music Studios, which looks to offer in-home music lessons; MyProfiles, an app that organizes social media platforms; and SPIIN, a bike share firm using electric bikes.
The awards presentation was held in conjunction with a Mason Innovation Expo where a dozen additional Mason-related developing companies demonstrated their products and services.
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