Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Nine teams win 1,000 Pitches in year of record turnout

Aspiring student entrepreneurs at U-M set a record in the fifth annual 1,000 Pitches contest, winners of which were announced Sunday.

The original goal of the contest was to gather 1,000 business or social project ideas from students across campus. This year, the student entrepreneurial organization MPowered Entrepreneurship collected more than 4,500.

"1,000 Pitches is an inspiring, exciting introduction to entrepreneurship for thousands of U-M students," said Catherine Huang, 1,000 Pitches director at MPowered. "Our student body has excellent potential to solve some of the world's most pressing problems."

The contest invites undergrads and graduate students to pitch ideas via video on the 1,000 Pitches website. A panel of expert judges chose winners in nine categories. Each winning person or team receives $1,000.

Winners are:

• In the Health category, Arjun Gupta, a master of entrepreneurship student, won for Universal Vaccines. Gupta represents an interdisciplinary team including doctors and researchers who are developing a vaccine that targets the variations of the HIV virus in the body, as the virus is capable of mutating rapidly.

• In the Consumer Product and Small Business category, Aaron White, a sophomore physics student, won for Perimeter Home Automation System. Perimeter could automate a home with a user's smartphone. It could turns lights on and off depending on where someone is, or turn off an electric oven when they leave your house.

• In the Education category, law students Connie Chang and Amy Kabaria won for Defenders for America, a Teach-for-America-like program for lawyers that places recent law graduates in public defender positions for two years.

• In the Tech and Hardware category, Daniel Gorham, an engineering undergraduate, won for Alarm Alert. This improvement to car-alarm technology would send a signal to the car owners' keys to let them know the alarm is going off even if they are out of earshot.

• In the Environment category, Steven Sherman, a master of entrepreneurship student, won for YouKnowWatt. This computer application and hardware set would let homeowners monitor and control their home's energy usage in real-time.

• In the Mobile Apps category, Rob Small, a computer science and engineering undergraduate, won for Hubba Hubba Skate Spot Finder. This mobile app could help skateboarders find prime locations to practice in places without skate parks.

• In the MProvements category, Radhika Gutta, an undergraduate studying Spanish, won for Health2Go, a food stand in Mason Hall that offers students healthy food in between classes.

• In the Web and Software category, Jessica Ruiz, an undergraduate student studying sociology, won for Family First, an online platform for families to stay connected.