Efficiency is the Watchword for Business Idea Contest Winners
Top Undergraduate and Grad Student Entries Emphasize Saving Energy, Money and Time

Both winning teams at the Fifth Annual UT Dallas Business Idea Competition captured their prizes by seeking more efficiency from modern living. The first-place graduate team focused on cost savings and clean energy when members planned solar panel-covered parking structures for businesses. The first-place undergraduate team aimed for reducing restaurant waits by devising a smartphone app for ordering food in advance.

Graduate Team IEE Biz Competition Winners 2011

Graduate Team: Ben Wilson, Andrew Cyders and Vance Weintraub with IEE Associate Director Jackie Kimzey

Photon Inc., the graduate team of three Naveen Jindal School of Management MBA students, offered the combined benefits of covered parking and clean, cost-effective energy generation with their winning idea for solar panel-covered parking structures. The energy collected by the panels would help businesses offset the costs of operating the facilities, according to the trio, Andrew Cyders, Vance Weintraub and Ben Wilson.

The smartphone app of Blu Mango, the undergraduate team, promises better food faster, according to teammates Raheel Ata, a freshman biochemistry major; Vivek Raman, a freshman electrical engineering major; and Nikhil Karnik, a junior biomedical engineering major.

Blu Mango earned $4,000 for first place and an additional $500 for most effective presentation at the Nov. 18 finals held in the Jindal School. Photon Inc. also earned $4,000.

The first-place teams also will receive legal services provided by the Afghani Law Firm, incubator space in the UT Dallas Venture Development Center and coaching from entrepreneurship faculty in preparation for more business idea competitions across the U.S. and Canada.

Graduate Team IEE Biz Competition Winners 2011

Undergraduate Team: Raheel Ata, Vivek Raman and 
Nikhil Karnik

In all, the competition, an annual contest sponsored by the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UT Dallas, offered $19,000 in cash prizes. Individual and corporate sponsors, including Hie Electronics, Mr. and Mrs. David Matthews, Trailblazer Capital, TransGlobal Technologies and the supporters of the institute’s Innovation Alliance, contributed the prize money.

“The competition continues to grow each year,” Dr. Joseph C. Picken, the institute’s executive director said, “with broad participation from across the University.”

Picken said the quality of business ideas “presented was excellent this year.”

Open to all students in all seven schools on campus, the competition attracted 170 entrants organized into 59 teams. Fifteen teams advance to the finals, where the students presented their ideas to judges drawn from a wide variety of professions. Venture capitalists, inventors, intellectual property lawyers, management executives, and merger and acquisitions experts were among those who weighed in on the students’ work.

“Participating in an event like this one really helps clear up a lot about your company,” Blu Mango member Nikhil Karnik said. “This competition has only motivated us more to get the job done.”

The Sixth Annual UT Dallas Business Idea Competition will be held November 16, 2012. More information will be availabe on the IIE website in August 2012.


Winning Teams

Undergraduate Division

First Place ($4,000) and Most Effective Presentation ($500) – Blu Mango: Raheel Ata, freshman in biochemistry; Nikhil Karnik, junior in biomedical engineering; and Vivek Raman, freshman in electrical engineering. Their idea: a smartphone app that allows users to order food from casual dining restaurants in order to bypass or reduce restaurant waits.

First Runner-Up ($2,500) – Open Academia: Bryan Cain, a University of Oklahoma student, and Matthew Krenik, junior in electrical engineering. Their idea: an online scientific publishing tool.

Second Runner-Up ($1,750) – Proto Fuel System: Travis Dirr, senior in electrical engineering; James Hallford, senior in mechanical engineering; Yesenia Sanchez, graduate student in supply chain management. Their idea: a fuel system that would increase the efficiency of automobile engines.

Third Runner-Up ($750) – Cultural Brokers: Aekta Malhotra, senior in IDS; Russell Prichard, senior in biology; Charissa Tran, senior in sociology; Jonathan Tran, sophomore in biology. Their idea: a service that provides cultural competency training and translation services to healthcare providers.

Graduate Division

First Place ($4,000) – Photon, Inc.: Andrew Cyders, MBA; Vance Weintraub, MBA; Ben Wilson, MBA. Their idea: solar panel-covered parking structures whose energy generation help offset facility costs.

First Runner-Up ($2,500) and Most Effective Presentation ($500) – MeStro: Abraham Elmahreh; Thomas Krenik, MBA. Their idea: a service that uses social media to bring together foodies and restaurateurs through home dining.

Second Runner-Up ($1,750) – Electric Water: Christopher Alameddin, applied physics; Alex Holcomb, management science; Robert Northrup, a 2010 MS in biotechnology alumnus; Abdelaziz Rahy, a 2008 PhD in chemistry alumnus. Their idea: a system for cleaning salt water and polluted water.

Third Runner-Up ($750) – Wagshare: Balaji Gourabathina, a 2010 MS in computer science alumnus; Anurakt Saxena, electrical engineering; Anuvrat Saxena, sophomore in electrical engineering. Their idea: a tool to increase blog traffic by linking posts to related posts across the Internet.

The report was prepared by Elizabeth Shipley of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UT Dallas. 

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].