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SIC first-place winner takes their idea beyond the challenge

Jul 2, 2014

Scripps College of Communication Dean Scott Titsworth presented the $10,000 first prize to Naeem Gul, Ehsan Ardjmand and Enakshi Roy at the Scripps Innovation Challenge Pitch Day event on April 21. / Photos by Megan Westervelt

SIC first-place winner takes their idea beyond the challenge

EG 501 seeking funding to develop their product for market

By Katie Quinn

ATHENS, Ohio (July 2, 2014)—The team EG 501 came up with an algorithm to monetize the Columbus Dispatch’s 190,000 Twitter followers through identifying communities on social media and customizing tweets to better serve existing followers. Its method landed the team of three the $10,000 first prize amount on Pitch Day of the Scripps Innovation Challenge student competition on Monday, April 21. Now two of the team members are taking their idea further.

EG 501 competed against six team finalists in a media innovation contest sponsored by the Scripps College of Communication and open to all students at Ohio University. Since the challenge, the team has focused on market testing their algorithm to ensure there is no redundancy and the algorithm is useful to their market. 

Team members, Enakshi Roy, a doctoral student in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and Ehsan Ardjmand, have been in touch with the Ohio University Innovation Center and The Tech Transfer Office to continue development of their algorithm. The third team member, Naeem Gul, completed his Master’s in International Development Studies. As a Fulbright scholar, Gul had to return to Pakistan and will not be continuing in development of the team’s commercial application.

Roy and Ardjmand are currently networking with many organizations, nonprofits or users with more than 6,000 followers to find out how they use social media, their problems and whether they would be willing to pay for the team’s analytical software. The goal is to have 25 face-to-face interviews and 100 online surveys completed for their market research by summer’s end. 

The pair also intends to follow up with the Columbus Dispatch to ensure their work continues to remain an industry need. As the EG 501 team develops the product, they are looking at existing products that are meeting those demands.

“We are also looking at the various features of Twitter and Facebook, looking at their algorithms to see how we will integrate that with our software,” said Ardjmand, a doctoral candidate in Industrial and Systems Engineering.

Roy said staff at at the Ohio University Innovation Center showed interest in helping them develop the idea on Pitch Day and that they have guided the team in applying for a grant offered by the Center to help with funding.

“The Innovation Challenge helped us get that threshold of visibility on campus,” Roy said. 

If Ardjmand and Roy receive the grant, they plan to hire others to help with programming, set up the app and design a website. The grant would also go towards reaching out to seniors or graduates from the Ohio University Business School to assist in gaining clients. 

“The University community has been so welcoming as we approach them, and it wouldn’t have happened without the challenge,” said Roy.

Additional information on the contest finalists’ innovations can be found on the Innovation Challenge website.