Student Product Plans Earn Compliments, Cash

'Ref for the Deaf' and 'Green Grid' Gadgets Are Top Winners in $39,000 UT Dallas Business Idea Competition

Nov. 27, 2007

An alerting system that enables hearing-impaired students to more easily participate in sports and a metering system that manages the two-way exchange of power between a plug-in electric vehicle’s batteries and the power grid are the judges’ top picks in the first UT Dallas Business Idea Competition.

Sponsored by the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) at UT Dallas, the contest drew 89 entrants organized into 37 teams that competed for $39,000 in cash prizes awarded for imaginative and promising new business ideas.

The teams competed in two categories: graduate and undergraduate, and reviewers judged submissions on the basis of originality, market opportunity, value proposition, competitive advantage and feasibility. The undergraduate competition was open to UT Dallas students only, while in the graduate division at least two members of a team had to be UT Dallas students.

Twenty-four semifinalist teams, chosen earlier in the semester, presented their business plans to the judges on Nov. 9. Eight teams moved on to the final rounds, and winners were announced at an afternoon reception the same day.

“The quality of the business ideas was very impressive. Many of the teams had sound ideas that showed commercial promise,” said IIE Executive Director Dr. Joseph Picken.

“Because of the high quality, it was a tough choice to decide the winners, but the judges were very consistent in their opinions,” he said.

And the winners are …

Graduate Division
First place and a prize of $10,000 went to MBA students Timothy Gutschlag and Jonathan Hoak; and Richardson eigth-grader Celia Beron and her father, Dr. Kurt Beron, a faculty member in the UT Dallas School of Economics, Political and Policy Sciences. The team proposed “Ref for the Deaf,” a notification and alerting system that enables hearing-impaired students to more safely participate in sports activities.

Second prize of $5,000 was awarded to MBA students Sriram Jayaram and Ritesh Shah for creating “Hara Bhara,” environmentally friendly tableware made of leaves. Hara Bhara—which means “Go Green” in Hindi—also won two $1,000 prizes for “Best Business Idea” and “Best Presentation.”

Third place and $2,500 went to MBA students Samuel Patrick Acosta, Jr., Travis Sanderfer and Lakshmi Venkateshkumar for developing “Trio – Body Shop,” an interactive storefront where children can build, modify, customize and test their own radio-controlled car or truck.

Undergraduate Division
First place of $10,000 was awarded to senior Management majors Stephen Dunlap and Jacqueline Frances Timte, and senior Management and Arts and Technology major William Bennett Morrow for their “Green Grid” concept. Green Grid is an electricity broker that provides two-way meters for electric vehicles that allow them to charge their batteries from ordinary electric outlets during off-peak hours and sell excess power back to the electric utility during peak hours. Green Grid creators also won a $1,000 “Best Business Idea” prize.

Second prize of $5,000 went to senior Management majors Josh Berry and Robert McDonald for creating “CommuniTrain,” a Web-based system that provides tutors and trainers with a system to create, market and deliver training materials. The team also won a $1,000 “Best Presentation” prize.

Third place and $2,500 was awarded to senior Management major Samuel Adam Spiegel and junior Management major Bo Bao for “,”an online gallery and social networking site for the artistic community.

Funding for the competition’s prizes was provided by Sevin Rosen Funds, Hunt Ventures, Trailblazer Capital, Deloitte, Wischmeyer Benefit Partners, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich Rosati, ONSearch Partners, airBand, Ceterus, InnerWireless and Wayport.

Open to all UT Dallas students, the competition was designed to stimulate interest in innovation and entrepreneurship across the university. Dr. Picken said organizers plan to begin publicizing next year’s competition in the spring of 2008.

About the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
The Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UT Dallas is a collaborative initiative of the schools of Arts and Humanities; Behavioral and Brain Sciences; Economic, Political and Policy Sciences; Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science; Management; and Natural Sciences and Mathematics. The institute’s programs focus on initiatives in four broad areas: academic and student programs, internal programs and support, community outreach and research. For additional information, please visit the institute’s website at

Media contacts: Jill Glass, UT Dallas, ( 972) 883-5989, [email protected]
or Patricia Schoch, (972) 883-6298, [email protected]

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Undergraduate winners

From left: David Deeds, academic director for the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; winning undergraduate team members Stephen Dunlap, Jacqueline Frances Timte and William Bennett Morrow; and Joseph Picken, executive director of IIE.

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May 26, 2018