Eyes on the prize: Seymour High School graduate wins entrepreneurial contest



Walking through the green spaces on her campus at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, Autumn Fox, a 2009 Seymour High School graduate, saw more than just grass. She saw potential.

What if, she asked, those wide-open spaces could host a garden maintained by students? And not just the kind of garden you’d find outside of a science classroom, but one that could be a feast for the senses, engaging one’s sight, smell, touch, sound and taste?

That idea turned into Ecopatch, judged the best of 15 ideas presented by students at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis’ annual JagStart competition March 3.

In the competition, sponsored by the IUPUI Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, entrepreneurially minded students present their innovative ideas for solutions to pressing social and economic issues via three-minute “elevator pitches” to judges.

The 15 entries, from a wide range of schools, including the Kelley School of Business, School of Informatics and Computing, School of Science and School of Engineering and Technology, were vetted prior to the competition by technology managers at the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp.

A total of $5,500 in prizes was awarded, divided among the top three entries as selected by the judging panel and the top pitch as chosen by an audience ballot.

The winners are as follows:

First place, $2,500: Ecopatch, Autumn Fox of Seymour, IUPUC senior in biology.

Project description: “A sensory garden is designed with the purpose of engaging the senses of sight, smell, touch, sound and taste, which is beneficial for people with disabilities and helps to focus the attention of young students.”

“A garden is normally associated with a science curriculum, but a garden that stimulates the senses can be utilized across the curriculum,” Fox said. “While the installation of a garden can be intimidating and confusing to many, if a specific and simplified version is chosen, it can take all the guesswork and uncertainty out of the process and lead to a successful and useful learning space that all people, including the disabled and handicapped, can participate in and enjoy.”

“There’s been such a disconnect between kids and nature,” Fox said after the competition. “I want to inspire them to get out there and be involved in the environment.”

Second place, $1,500: Stadium Hero, Julian Keefe, IUPUI senior in the School of Informatics and Computing.

Project description: “Stadium Hero is an SAAS (software as a service) idea that would help enhance the fan experience at sporting events while also providing a back-end solution to venues and organizations to help improve their customer experience.”

“Our app would include loyalty programs, in-game delivery of food and merchandise, augmented reality and other features to help make games and venues unforgettable,” Keefe said.

Stadium Hero was the winner in November of the 24-hour Sports Innovation Challenge presented by the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute. The challenge paired students randomly and asked them to create a product or service that would enhance the fan experience at a sporting event.

Keefe was a part of a team of four students that split a $1,500 scholarship. Two other members of that team also made pitches at the JagStart competition.

Third place, $500: Sound Habitat, Brian Holden, Kelley School of Business MBA student.

Project description: “Sound Habitat is a web- and mobile-based app that aims to reinvent the way the local music industry operates. We enable artists and venues to more efficiently find one another, communicate and book performances.”

“Both will be able to create a profile that says who they are, what they do and what they are looking for. Our platform will serve as a designated destination for these artists and venues to go in order to ease their day-to-day management pains as well as keep tabs on the ever-changing local music scene,” Holden said. “Lastly, fans will be able to track their favorite artists and venues to stay up-to-date on the performances happening around them.”

Audience choice, $1,000: Feed Now, Iris Wang, Kelley School of Business MBA student.

Project description: “Feed Now is a program that aims to help the local homeless community, low-income households and those who are under food insecurity with surplus food supplies that would have been tossed away by restaurants, school cafeterias and dining halls, catering companies and individuals.”

“Feed Now has both an online and an offline phase. The online phase will focus on connecting those who have surplus food supply and those who have food demand in real time,” Wang said. “With the geographic location system, Feed Now is able to notify the demand party of what supplies are available around that area and then set up a time and location for pickup.”

“For the offline phase, Feed Now will partner with university on-campus cafeterias and work out a schedule for student volunteers to collect excess food that otherwise would have gone to dumpsters and landfill,” Wang said.