Students present entrepreneurial ventures at Triple Impact Challenge

More than 50 students presented entrepreneurial ventures that offered solutions to social issues or ideas for a business opportunity.

By Alyssa Baxter ’15

The third Triple Impact Challenge sponsored by Elon’s Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership hosted 23 student teams that presented ventures to a panel of judges.

The Nov. 6 competition, held in the Global Commons, brought together more than 50 students representing 16 different majors.

The event debuted last fall with six teams competing in the event. Because of the increase in the number of teams participating this semester, the teams were divided into two groups, which resulted in two sets of first-, second- and third-place winners.

One of the first-place teams was BioNode, which was comprised of biology major Robert Paxton ’16, entrepreneurship major Kellen Sorenson ’16 and environmental/ecological major Britta Halvorson ’15. BioNode is a multilayered biodegradable pot that is made up of two layers of plastic. Upon soil immersion, the inside layer decomposes first and the outside second. Between the two layers of plastics are nutrients that feed the tree and guide the roots.

The team explained that the pot will help the tree acclimate to the soil more effectively, decreasing rejection rate, and will also provide ample nutrition to the tree. BioNode could eliminate a source of plastics, while at the same time increasing the number of trees that survive, thus lowering levels of carbon dioxide.

“The Triple Impact Challenge allowed me to realize a creative venture fusing my knowledge in bioplastic chemistry with my desire to create more readily available sustainable options that can mitigate anthropocentric-caused environmental damage,” Halvorson said.

The other first-place team was Weird Enough Productions, which included theatre arts major Tony Weaver ’16, english major Negesti Kaudo ’15, and cinema & television arts majors Mia Watkins ’15 and Rasheed Cheek ’16. They built a production company that works to remedy the effects of misrepresentation and under representation of African Americans in the media.

The goal of the company is to create media to challenge the stereotypes. Weird Enough Productions is currently working on a web series called “Weird Enough to Work,” which chronicles the lives of three African-American males on a predominately white college campus.

“Instead of just creating something and tossing it online, we wanted to create a community, we wanted to create a movement that could grow into a significant force in the media industry,” Weaver said. “In order to accomplish that goal we knew an official business entity was necessary. The Triple Impact Challenge offered us the ability to get funding to establish that entity, and we knew we had to take advantage of it.”

Placing second in the competition was senior Grant Stimmel’s venture, Fruit Suits, which offers convenient access to fresh fruits and other healthy options via a mobile display cart which is dropped off and collected daily from office buildings. Stimmel is a marketing and entrepreneurship double major.

Also placing second was Alzheimer’s Therapy Tool founded by Interactive Media master’s student Henry Kean. Alzheimer’s Therapy Tool is an application that will connect a user’s personal digital photos with his or her music listening history in an interactive timeline. The goals of the initiative are to use multimedia to connect users with their memories, and to bring awareness and funding to Alzheimer’s disease research.

One of the two third-place finishers was senior Atsushi Hayakawa’s venture, Japanese Internship Guide, which is a website that shares 12 strategies on how to get an internship for Japanese international students studying in the U.S. The guide also connects students with organizations that help international students find internships, as well as international communities in targeted U.S. cities. Hayakawa is an international student from Japan who is studying business administration at Elon.

Also placing third was Share Plus, which was founded by iMedia graduate students Megan McGowan and Tiffany MacKins. Share Plus connects local communities to help share surplus supplies.

“The primary purpose of the Triple Impact Challenge is to begin engaging our students in the innovation process,” said Kevin O’Mara, professor of management and executive director of the Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. “Not only will students better understand the process of developing innovative ideas, but they will also begin putting their ideas out for others to see and assess, which is often the bigger hurdle. Participating in the TIC is a first step, but it may be the biggest step in a longer process.”

Other teams that participated included:

  • Alamance County Immigration – Morgan Abate
  • Baseball Diamond Covers – Ben Koffel, Stephen Monick and Parker Ulry
  • Clothes Swap – Ben Charette, Cate LeSourd and Cameron Magida
  • Environmental Leadership Training – Cole Harbur
  • Flip the Block – Jay Binstein
  • Quote – Kimmie O’Brien, Martin Sharp and Chann Little
  • Rescue Dogs – Nick Mastrocola, Nick Garfield, Kristen McGee, Andrew Lydecker and Evan Colechia
  • Responsible Restaurant – Cate LeSourd
  • – Nicole Miles, Jessica Chassin and Griffin Everts
  • Simply Local NC – Matthew Eastman and Jonathon Bucec
  • SimpTrax – Steve Bianchi
  • Students Offering Solutions – Lauren Bourne and Brandon Frye
  • Top Performance Golf – David Perell
  • ViMe – Kelsey Price, Keegan De Silva, Alexandra Battaglia and Kaede Doi
  • Web Creation Services – Kristen DeMaria and John Zimmer
  • Women’s International Day – Courtney McKelvey and Gabby Vance

Judges for the Triple Impact Challenge included:

  • David Higham ’06 G’09, adjunct instructor in marketing and owner of Spirit Halloween Burlington, For Every Season, Granny’s Goodies, Holly Hill Photography, Rudolph & Me and
  • Phil Smith, proprietor at the Oak House
  • Peter Ustach ’09, president and co-owner at Pandora’s Pies, LLC
  • Pat Bell, lecturer in management
  • Tammy Cobb, assistant director for community partnerships
  • Kirby Wahl, associate professor of performing arts
  • James Marchant, assistant professor of arts administration

The Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, established in 2007 by a gift from Elon parents Ed and Joan Doherty P’07, focuses on teaching entrepreneurial thinking and initiatives that attempt to solve problems or seize opportunities. The center sponsors several programs and events throughout the year aimed at students in all fields of study.

The next Triple Impact Challenge will be held in spring 2015.