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Research Communications

Startup Weekend winners develop prototype technologies for students, farmers, fish tanks 

ATHENS, Ohio (April 27, 2012)—The winners of the first Athens Startup Weekend have developed prototype technologies for flash cards for school kids, a web interface for farmers market patrons and a temperature gauge for fish tanks.

The competition, held April 20-22 at Ohio University's Innovation Center and Walter Hall, attracted 36 technical and business entrepreneurs seeking to develop their startup company concepts with the help of a panel of industry experts. A total of seven teams, which included Ohio University students and faculty members and local professionals, participated in the inaugural event.

First-place winners FlashCrop created a mobile application designed to make digital flash cards for students. The app takes pictures of notes, glossaries and study guides and turns those images into note cards. The startup team, which won a $2,500 prize for the concept, includes:

  •  Supradeep Kumar, master's student in mechanical engineering, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
  •  Richard Rodman, junior in marketing, College of Business
  •  Chad Stroud, senior in mechanical engineering, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
 FlashCrop
(Left to Right): Sara Marrs (Business Remixed), Chad Stroud, Supradeep Kumar, Richard Rodman, Jennifer Simon (Innovation Center)

Second-place winners Agribuddy developed a web service for farmers and farmers market organizers to share product data with farmers market patrons. The service draws on crowd-sourced data from users of Agribuddy iOS and Android applications. Patrons will receive live data from farmers markets in their vicinity, allowing them to get more involved in the growing local food movement. The startup team, which won a $1,500 prize for the concept, includes:

  •  Sid McFarland, owner, Extra Nerds
  •  Jonathon Yale, vice president of operations/co-founder, Global Hardgoods
  •  Ricky Chilcott, technology and facilities manager, Scripps College of Communication
  •  Jeff Douglas, Ohio University student
  •  Warnaka Gunawardena, master's student in industrial and systems engineering, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
 AgriBuddy
(Left to Right): Sara Marrs, Warnaka Gunawardena, Ricky Chilcott, Sid McFarland, Jonathon Yale, Jeff Douglas, Jennifer Simon

Third-place winners Monitor Control Group created the "Anti-Killer App" that calculates water temperature in consumer fish tanks and sends a report to the user's phone. The startup team, which won a $1,000 prize for the concept, includes:

  •   Jesus Pagan, assistant director, Ohio University Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
  •   Chang Liu, associate professor, Ohio University School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
  •   Ted Gilfert, CEO, Athens Technical Specialists, Inc.
  •   Diane McVey, audiologist and president, Diles Hearing Center
  •   Robert Charvat, alumnus of the University of Cincinnati
  •   Errol Bolden, associate professor and chair, School of Professional Studies, Coppin State University in Maryland
 MonitorControlGroup
(Left to Right): Sara Marrs, Chang Liu, Jesus Pagan, Diane McVey, Ted Gilfert, Robert Charvart, Jennifer Simon (not pictured: Eric Bolden)

At the opening Startup Weekend event Friday night, participants pitched their best ideas and encouraged others to join their teams. On Saturday and Sunday, the teams focused on validating their product ideas and customer development. On Sunday evening, the teams demonstrated their prototypes and received feedback from a panel of experts from TechGROWTH Ohio, the Ohio University Technology Transfer Office, the Ohio University Center for Entrepreneurship, Athenian Ventures and Global Cooling.

"Startup Weekend was a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to take an idea from pitch to prototype in just 48 hours," said Jennifer Simon, director of Ohio University's Innovation Center, which organized the event. "The judges were impressed with the high level of ingenuity and talent demonstrated by this first cohort."

About 30 percent of the teams involved in Startup Weekend events, which are held internationally, continue to pursue their ideas after the competition. Some of the local teams already have contacted the Innovation Center this week to inquire about developing their business concepts further, Simon reported.

The event was sponsored by the Ohio University Office of the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity, the Ohio University Center for Entrepreneurship, Scripps College of Communication, Business Remixed, TechGROWTH Ohio, Reid Consulting Group, Wesbanco, Classic Brands and Ooomf.com.

The Innovation Center's next program for entrepreneurs will focus on digital media startup companies. The Innovation Engine Accelerator program is a 10-week boot camp providing seed funding of up to $20,000 each for five teams this summer. Visit http://www.ohio.edu/research/innovation/Innovation-Engine-Accelerator.cfm. Apply by May 1 for early bird consideration; selected teams will be notified the week of May 7. Rolling applications will be accepted until all 5 teams are selected or until June 18 when the program begins. Program runs through August 24.

Created in 1983, the Innovation Center was the first university-based business incubator in the state of Ohio and the 12th in the United States. The current 36,000 square foot facility, which opened in 2003, is home to high-tech and biotechnology startup companies. The Innovation Center is located at 340 W. State St. in Athens, Ohio. For general information, visit http://www.ohio.edu/innovation.

Contacts: Katrice Williams, (740) 593-1818, accelerator@ohio.edu; Andrea Gibson, (740) 597-2166, gibsona@ohio.edu; Jennifer Simon, (740) 593-1803, simonj@ohio.edu.