$2k goes to Greensboro students with best business pitches
iPhone app wins in contest’s 4th iteration
Four entrepreneurial students walked away from the UNCG Alumni House with $2,000 in prizes on March 31st. They were the latest in a distinguished line of Greensboro-area students to conquer the 2 Minutes to Win It competition.
The contest, run by the North Carolina Entrepreneurship Center, features 20 Greensboro-area students pitching their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of judges. Judges know nothing about the contestants, who have only two minutes to explain why their business concept deserves further development. First place winner receives $1,000, a guaranteed spot in Greensboro Partnership’s downtown Triad Startup Lab, as well as business, legal, and marketing consultations. Second place, third place, and Best Pitch winners are also eligible for spots in the Startup Lab and receive $500, $250, and $250, respectively.
At some point everyone has regretted or been uneasy about sending a particular text message. Osmont’s idea, the “Tattle Tail” app, would work with your phone’s default texting system to prevent other users from taking screenshots of your messages.
“If someone tries to take a photo of your text,” Osmont explains, “what will actually show up for them is the Tattle Tail logo with the phrase ‘You’ve been outfoxed.’” The free version of the app would prevent screenshots only, but a $0.99 version would also alert users about which contact took the picture and which texts were targeted.
The app was inspired by a personal experience. Last year, Osmont’s roommate weathered a dramatic episode when a screenshot of a text was taken out of context. Tattle Tail would prevent similar scenarios for college students as well as young teens, who encounter cyberbullying on an increasing basis. “Parents don’t want to be standing over their kid’s shoulder and watching their texts, but they do want a safety net in case they make mistakes.”
Osmont was the most shocked of all when hearing the news of her victory. “We had a chance to talk to the other contestants, and I was honestly blown away by a lot of their ideas.” Surprisingly, the High Point student did not originally make the cut for the final 20 contestants. Another student’s unavailability led to her entrance in the final round, so Osmont’s triumph is “a bit of a Cinderella story,” as she calls it.
The app idea captured the attention of those in the audience, and Osmont has been contacted by numerous judges offering assistance with her venture. David Horne, a co-founder of Magnetic Ideas, discussed the next steps for Tattle Tail with Osmont. “He really helped me out as far as being realistic about [Tattle Tail] and if it could actually happen.”
Coming second was Priyanka Ruparelia, a PhD candidate at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN). The chemical engineering graduate came up with “Skin Spy” as a result of her own experiences. Dealing with inexplicable redness and bumps on her skin, Ruparelia endured six months of blood, urine, and needle tests to find the root of the problem. “[The allergist] literally pricked me a hundred times to find the cause. Being a nanoscientist, I wondered if there was a better way.” Skin Spy employs nanotechnology in a machine that moves directly over a patient’s redness and then senses the allergy, eliminating unnecessary medical testing. Skin Spy is a fraction of the cost of traditional methods, so accessibility would be a selling point. “I want to make it available to doctors, but why not make it available to pharmacies, too,” Ruparelia explains. “Anyone can use it.”
Placing third was last semester’s winner, Taylor Mabe, also a JSNN PhD candidate and research assistant. Mabe’s “Nano Flow” would revolutionize the way we test blood and water for toxins and bacteria. The current method, which separates samples into its components, requires a large machine with a large price tag. Mabe’s concept, inspired by lithography, is an etched glass chip that utilizes electrodes, electric currents, and light to separate the components of small quantities of liquid. The “portable lab on a chip,” as Mabe calls it, is no bigger than a matchbox and can be brought directly to the water source or patient’s bedside. “When you shrink stuff down, you need less sample, so if forensics are looking at a murder case and there’s only one spec of blood, you can use it to do the analysis,” says Mabe. “It’s portable, it’s disposable, it’s just glass. There’s a significant reduction in cost, time, and waste.”
The Best Pitch award went to Naomi Thomas, a UNCG sophomore double majoring in computer science and business administration. Thomas’s “mytechlife” exposes K-12 students to the world of technology and coding in fun and interactive ways. “At the end of the program, teachers and parents will be invited to see all the projects the kids have been working on and will also learn about how to get educational technology products in classrooms and homes.”
2 Minutes to Win It continues its tradition of bringing impressive, innovative ideas to Triad entrepreneurial circles. This year’s contest, the first ever held in spring, started with 66 entrants. Over the past four years, nearly 300 Greensboro-area students have participated in the competition. Notable community judges have included Andy Dreyfuss of Piedmont Angel Network, Parks Freeze of Commonwealth Hosiery, Jenny Fulton of Miss Jenny’s Pickles, Marty Kotis of Kotis Properties, John Lomax of Lomax Construction, Gray McCaskill of Senn Dunn Insurance, Judy Miller of RSVP Communications, Alan Neely of New River Innovation, Inc., Dennis Stearns of Stearns Financial, Laura Way of Greenhill, and Craig Whittaker of ESG Energy.
The contest remains a staple in the North Carolina Entrepreneurship Center’s line up of events, presenting outstanding growth opportunities to all college students in the Greensboro area and making way for the next big idea.
And yes, all of the winners enjoy Shark Tank.
Article author Kevin Flanagan is a Media and Communication Intern with the UNCG Office of Research and Economic Development. He explores and writes articles about the on and off campus impacts of UNCG research. Kevin is a senior at UNCG, majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in Media Studies. His interest in business, marketing, communication, and media led him to his current position.