Rock goggles, feel good phone app, smart spaces winning pitches at SXSW

Eleven teams from the School of Information had the chance to pitch their startup ideas before judges from the computer industry, venture capital investors, academics and other entrepreneurs at the 2015 Innovation Pitch Competition at the South by Southwest Interactive Conference on March 14.

First place and a $2500 prize went to RockVision, pitched by UMSI students Vispan Boocha and Selwyn Kancharla. They proposed using augmented reality platforms that already exist (such as Google Glass) to provide musicians with information they need during a performance, such as scrolling lyrics, upcoming transitions and effect switches.

Second place and $1000 went to GoodOne, pitched by UMSI and School of Public Health graduates Beth Cotter and Meaghan Cotter. GoodOne is a mobile phone application that fosters connections between people through suggested daily inspirational tasks, with the goal of raising self-esteem and an appreciation of self.

Third place and $500 went to Aether, proposed by UMSI’s Rachel Jaffe. Her idea is to create a design firm where architects, urban designers, information scientists, engineers, and coders all collaborate together to design "smart" spaces that work for people, from the scale of one room to the scale of cities. One of her first projects would be to create a mobile application that helps people with the same research interests to connect to each other.

The contest was sponsored by the UMSI Entrepreneurship Program, the Ross Entrepreneurship Venture Club and the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, and took place at the business school on the U-T campus the first Saturday of South by Southwest.

Teams were judged on the impact of the proposed project, team strength, passion for the project, and the quality of the value proposition. Judges were drawn from several Austin-area businesses including Dell, Avnet Academy, Tech Nexus, and Austin Technology Institute, as well as the Wolverine Angel Network.

A business plan competition preceded the ideation competition, where teams of MBA students from business schools at the Universities of Texas, Washington, Michigan, California-Berkeley, Virginia and MIT presented business plans for startups. That contest was won by a team from the Sloan School at MIT.

posted on march 20, 2015