INDIANAPOLIS — August 2, 2021 — Twenty-two students from a dozen universities and colleges will share in the $25,000 Summer Opportunities for Skills Challenge (S.O.S. Challenge) prize purse and an opportunity to participate in Elevate Ventures’ Fall 2021 Regional Nexus Pitch Competition.
The event was the culmination of six weeks of work that involved 170 students and recent coding graduates from Eleven Fifty Academy working on 39 teams with 81 coaches from 42 Indianapolis area tech companies. The objective was to create solutions for challenges communities across Indiana (and the world) are currently facing as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Learn about the student developed technologies below.
S.O.S. Challenge participants were asked to devise a solution to current challenges in five categories and build a portfolio worthy project. Indy area tech companies supported the program through volunteer coaches who dedicated time and expertise to give students guidance, inspiration and a glimpse at what it’s like to work in Indiana tech. The experience also helped the students begin to develop a network that can help them later in their careers.
TechPoint created the S.O.S. Challenge in 2020 to help salvage planned summer internships that were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Last year’s Challenge proved so popular, we brought it back this year and again were impressed with the level of commitment and energy students brought to the competition,” said Mike Langellier, CEO of Techpoint. “It’s wonderful seeing how this crazy idea born out of a crisis just a year ago has turned into a powerful platform for pre-internship students to develop valuable skills, taste a startup experience, expand their networks, and demonstrate their capabilities and character.”
Keegan Briskey, an Informatics major at IUPUI and member of Healthcare – Team 2, said the experience helped him develop communication and collaboration skills that will be invaluable in the future. “I speak for myself and others when I say that I am grateful for the time that I have spent working on my project, and learning so much about our challenges,” he said. “I know that I will carry the skills I have gained during the last six weeks wherever I go and to all that I do.”
Authenticx CEO Amy Brown, TechPoint’s 2020 Rising Entrepreneur of the Year, served as keynote speaker and spot advisor to the winning teams as they outlined their projects. Brown built her company from scratch, working with tech experts to bring to life her idea of improving communications between health care companies and patients by analyzing and activating customer interaction data at scale. “It’s really wonderful to see the energy and ideas coming from these young entrepreneurs and future leaders,” Brown said. “It’s invigorating to see the next crop of great ideas starting to grow.”
Landon Young, executive director, University Initiatives and an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Elevate Ventures, which supports startups, advised the teams on next steps for bringing their projects to market. He congratulated the students on surprising the venture capital firm with their ideas and encouraged them to apply for the next Elevate Ventures pitch competition, where they could earn up to $80,000 in seed capital. “The fact that you found markets we hadn’t heard of is awesome,” he said.
In the Education category, Team 8 created an app called Lighthouse to bridge gaps in communication and learning loss by tracking student data that provides warnings and insights when a student seems to be experiencing learning loss or other struggles. The app includes a chat feature to enable easy communication between students and instructors.
Members: Mary Stempky, Ball State University; Dillon Valenti, Purdue University-Fort Wayne; Savreen Kaur and Chris Cardoza, IUPUI; and Logan Franklin, Vincennes University. Coaches: John McDonald, NEXT Studios; Lisa Johnson, Genesys
In the Healthcare category, Team 2 used blockchain technology to create a universal medical identification called UnID (pronounced “unity) that allows users to sync their information across multiple providers and control who has access to what. The app can securely link patient healthcare data to a centralized source. Users can access integrated sharing controls to choose what information organizations can access from their healthcare portfolio.
Members: Keegan Briskey, IUPUI; Evan Burge, Wabash College; Isaac Solloway, Indiana University; Upasana Shrestha, Trine University; and Sydney Sauer, The Ohio State University. Coaches: Luis Kuae, Cummins; Xin Yao, Cummins
In the Sports & Entertainment category, Team 4 created Tech Guide, a navigation tool for the 500,000 attendees of the January 2022 College Playoffs in Indianapolis. TechGuide users will be able to use all the functionality of a regular map app, but with specific information relevant to the event and their own preferences, using crowdsourced data to produce real time information such as wait times, parking lot availability, crowd size and even restaurants, bars or other venues that offer heaters to keep folks warm as they gather or wait outside.
Members: Tyler Metheny, Wabash College; Ashleigh Sincebaugh, Indiana University; Erik Petersen, Valparaiso University; Matthew Hartel, The Ohio University. Coaches: Tim Laplante, OpenText; Mike Seidle, PivotCX
In the Indiana Agriculture category, Team 7 created the Backyard app, which it calls “the Etsy of Produce.” It gives the average gardener a platform to show off their skills while giving small-town farmers an audience to sell their excess vegetable produce.
Members: Lindsay Newell and Ginger Alford, Eleven Fifty Academy; Prajith Narendran, Indiana University; and Allen Zheng, Purdue University.
In the Sustainable Energy category, Team 1 created Battery Overflow, a website that addresses issues with usage, storage and proper disposal/recycling of used electric vehicle batteries.
Members: Carl Meyer, Kevin Morton and Sasha Jocius, Purdue University; and Michael High, Wabash College. Coaches: Adam Roark, Atrium; John Casey, Open Text
Each of the 170 participants who successfully completed the S.O.S. Challenge received a $500 stipend. S.O.S. Challenge applicants came from 29 Indiana universities and 13 schools from around the country, as well as three non-profit coding academies.
TechPoint is the nonprofit, industry-led growth initiative for Indiana’s technology companies and overall tech ecosystem. The team is focused on attracting talent, accelerating scale-up companies, activating the community and amplifying stories of success. To learn more visit, Techpoint.org.