On April 17, the Institute for Engaged Learning hosted IUPUI’s JagStart competition, which featured six participating teams. The annual pitch competition is open to all students and allows them the opportunity to share their creative business ideas with professionals.
“It’s really inspiring seeing students present innovative ideas that can have a real-world impact for the betterment of our society,” said Jerry Daday, executive associate dean of the Institute for Engaged Learning.
In previous years, judges awarded a $2,500 prize to one grand prize-winning team, and the audience voted and awarded $1,500 to another team. Due to difficulties recording the event this year, the judges selected both winners.
The Speak Easy, a non-profit co-working space in Indianapolis, offered a notable addition to the competition this year: a six-month free membership for members of the winning teams. The Speak Easy Executive Director Chelsea Marburger made the generous offer and also served as a JagStart judge for the second consecutive year.
“My hope is that the winners are surrounded by other entrepreneurial-minded people to continue to drive their ideas forward,” Marburger said.
M&O Moving Service, created by Medard Mikobi and Oswald Ugboaja, earned the first-place prize. Their business has a mission of providing low-cost options for students moving in and out of dorms and apartments while providing freelance job opportunities to students.
“Our company's next objective is to establish a partnership with IUPUI Residence Life,” Mikobi said. “Our official company launch is planned for the fall of 2023 in August. This partnership represents a significant opportunity for us to expand our customer base and enhance our reputation in the industry. As we move forward, we are committed to delivering exceptional service to our clients and ensuring sustainable growth for our business.”
Mikobi encouraged other students to participate in JagStart due to the personal and professional growth that can be gained through the experience.
“The opportunity to collaborate with accomplished entrepreneurs provides access to industry knowledge and expertise that can enhance the development of your business,” Mikobi said. “Overall, I believe this program offers an exceptional platform to receive feedback and support from individuals with firsthand experience in the business world.”
JEPS, a medical wallet that keeps health data safe and secure, earned second place. Team members Jesica Gomez, Emma Ertel, Jenna Preston, and Sam Sheroan created the concept.
The idea of JEPS and creating a virtual storage system for medical information stemmed from its creators struggling to access their medical records. With the medical wallet, users can access their history, diagnoses, and prescriptions all in one place. Barb Cutillo, co-director of JagStart, encouraged JEPS to participate in the event.
The JEPS team commented on the experience and thanked Cutillo for telling them to participate in the program.
“Participating in JagStart helped us meet and connect with many different people,” Gomez said. “We learned that there is a need and a want for our product, which excites us. We are also grateful for all the advice we received from the judges.”
The JEPS team expressed their passion for the project and will use the prize funds to continue conducting research.
“I am not sure what the next steps or goals are for JEPS,” Preston said. “This is something that means so much to me, and I think it would be amazing to continue with market research, diving more into our customer base and talking with software developers to truly gain an insight into what it would take to create something like this product.”
Chris Rogers, judge and co-director of JagStart, commented on the criteria that the judges used to decide the winners of this year's competition.
"We felt that both M&O Moving Service and JEPS had strong potential as a viable business going forward, and they had founders that were truly passionate about moving forward with their project,” Rogers said. “They both provided a clear roadmap of execution for how they can move from early concept to a startup.”
Along with M&O Moving Service and JEPS, the other teams that participated were Design Recruitment Tool, Diagnostic AI Rehabilitation Assistance, The Produce Project, and LangQuack.