The winners of The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation’s fifth annual Business Innovation Competition were announced recently, with $17,500 in prize money being distributed to those who placed in the top four.
The proposal for the HeyDoc app most impressed the judges, winning the students behind the idea the first-place prize of $10,000 to help make their idea a reality.Robert Ariss and Mahbod Pourriahi, both sophomores in the UT College of Engineering, said they hope to have their HeyDoc app on the market in about one year and already are talking to health-care systems.
“The HeyDoc app is designed for health-care professionals to help reduce hospital readmission rates, which cost approximately $41.3 billion a year,” Ariss said.
Pourriahi explained, “While other patient portals focus on merely opening a line of communication between the provider and patient, HeyDoc is unique as it allows physicians to increase patient compliance and reduce readmission rates through proprietary features we have created. It is a pre-emptive investment for hospitals to reduce readmissions and thus reduce fines.”
Ariss and Pourriahi admitted to being excited about winning the top prize, saying they learned about the annual contest from posters displayed throughout the UT campus. They also encouraged others to explore entrepreneurship and enter the competition.
“Just as we learned in Design Club in the College of Engineering, you have to identify a problem and then find a solution,” Ariss said.
“The fifth year of the business competition was a remarkable success as the College of Business and Innovation received 19 entries from across UT campuses,” said Dr. Sonny Ariss, chair and professor of the UT Department of Management. “I cannot be happier than to see the students of the four winning entries this year going for their goal. Through this competition, as well as through classes and other activities in the College of Business and Innovation, we are trying to turn around the thinking on campus, to encourage people to start their own businesses, to create jobs, and to stir economic development. In my book, they are all winners.”
“The spirit of entrepreneurship is critically important to the ongoing success of every university and every community,” noted Dr. Gary Insch, dean of the UT College of Business and Innovation. “This business competition truly reflects our emphasis on supporting innovation, fostering creative thinking, and nurturing the entrepreneurial environment, which is so essential for the economic growth of this region.”
In addition to the HeyDoc app by Ariss and Pourriahi, other winning proposals and entrants are:
• Second-place winner ($5,000) is Vitalys app, which is for infection detection and progression, by Pourriahi.
• Third-place winner ($2,000) is COcampus, an online platform for budding entrepreneurs on college campuses, by Scott McIntyre.
• Fourth-place winner ($500) is Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, the first Spanish radio station in northwest Ohio, by Linda Parra.
“The College of Business and Innovation again clearly demonstrates our support for advancing entrepreneurship by being the sole sponsor of this University-wide competition this year, and we stand ready to offer guidance to help these teams emerge beyond the University into the community,” Ariss said. “We want to see these ideas and business plans effectively implemented, creating jobs and enhancing the economic growth of the region.”
Entries for the fifth business plan competition were due in February. Finalists made oral presentations about their businesses to a panel of judges in April.
Judges for this year’s competition were Chris Anderson, Anderson Strategy; Dan Slifko, Rocket Ventures; Craig Burns, Marshall & Melhorn; Anthony Calamunci, Roetzel; and Joel Epstein, Waverly Partners.
Prize money is awarded to the newly formed business entity, not to the individuals.
“The big issue with entrepreneurship is that at first glance an idea may not seem obtainable,” Pourriahi said, “but you have to believe in yourself, and you can find a viable solution.”