Alta High students win event with idea for competition app
Hugh Carey, Deseret News
SANDY — For most teenagers, life is often filled with fun and excitement, with some silliness thrown in to keep things interesting. But there is also plenty of time spent being “bored.”
Three Alta High School seniors may be on their way to making big bucks by breaking the monotony of the average teenage life.
Bryan Luu, Matt Blake and Zach Gundry were the top prizewinners Tuesday at the second annual Kick-App Competition.
Modeled after the television show “Shark Tank,” 10 finalists gave three-minute pitches during a schoolwide assembly to present their ideas and business proposals for new mobile apps to a panel of judges made up of local business leaders and entrepreneurs.
The top entries included apps that promote social media and multimedia sharing. The winning trio came up with an idea called Verve, a competition app that allows users to post a video of a skill or activity and challenge others to beat them by posting their own videos to prove it.
“They can throw a Frisbee over three houses or make a giant cereal box tower, then others can try to one-up them,” Luu said. “It’s a big social media game where people can just try to do their best and try to be the coolest person in the world.”
Sponsored by the In Pursuit of Perfection Foundation, or IPOP, students vied for $10,000 in scholarships, with $2,000 going to the winning group. In addition, the judges could eventually provide mentoring to the students or invest in one of the winning ideas.
The runner-up in the competition was an app called Airwave by students Rocky Evans and Bridger Pennington. The app would connect multiple smartphones to share screens and cameras so groups of friends could watch video or listen to music simultaneously. Airwave also won the audience favorite award of $500.
In third place was the Stick Talk app by Nathan Hood. Rather than sending a simple text message, users could also send a voice recording along with a stick figure avatar that would say their message.
In addition to the winning entries, the top 10 ideas were awarded scholarships totaling $5,000 to cover their registration for the University of Utah’s Innovation Week, a student competition that pairs high school students with engineering students from the U. to help develop their applications.
According to the IPOP Foundation website, the organization focuses on the promotion, education and perpetuation of entrepreneurship as a pathway to self-reliance, self-confidence and selfless giving in order to impact the world for the better.
IPOP co-founder Amy Rees Anderson is an entrepreneur and the former chief executive officer of MediConnect Global Inc., a medical record retrieval and digitization firm.
Since selling the company for $377 million, Anderson has become an active angel investor, as well as an advocate and mentor for budding entrepreneurs. She praised the ingenuity of the hundreds of submissions at the year’s contest.
“The quality of the ideas really increased this year. We had some kids that really put some good thought into it,” Anderson said. “We had so many fundable ideas that could actually be successful businesses.”
Anderson said she would like to expand the competition statewide beginning next year, possibly branching out to several other high schools around Utah.
“Our mobile app idea competition is the perfect way to give high schoolers hands-on experience in formulating their own business ideas, with the hope of igniting a passion for entrepreneurship,” she said.
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