Innovative Apps Wow Judges at 2024 Entrepreneurial Impact Competition

Wednesday, 10 April 2024

Two teams of students were awarded $5,000 each in the fourth annual Entrepreneurial Impact Competition: Civil and Environmental Engineering’s answer to reality show “Shark Tank.”

The competition judges were impressed by the teams’ concepts of a trucking industry safety app—based on GPS location, real-time data and previous crash data—and a campus food delivery app for and implemented by Tech students.

Students were invited to submit concepts in the 2023 fall semester, and four finalists were selected to compete in the April 1 competition.

Each of the four teams was given five minutes to explain their concept and then field 10 minutes of in-depth questioning from the panel of judges. After the presentations, the judges adjourned to deliberate and select the winner in each of the two categories. The Higginbotham Entrepreneurship Award recognizes a more developed project, which is closer to being launched in the marketplace, and the Zeitlin Innovation Award recognizes creativity in a project at any stage of its development.

The team Himalayan Yetis, comprised of Sashank Rana and Aarosh Dahal, won the Higginbotham prize for their project, Mitho-Mitho.

Mitho-Mitho is a web and mobile application designed to facilitate the delivery of food from campus restaurants at the student center and the Tech Square area by and to Georgia Tech students. The service would utilize students’ Buzzcards for identification and payment purposes. In return for their delivery service, students could earn rewards and dining dollars.

Winning team Himalayan Yetis pose with donor Bill Higginbotham and a big check

Sashank Rana, left, and Aarosh Dahal, right, of Himalayan Yetis accept their $5,000 prize check with donor Bill Higginbotham, center. (Photo by Melissa Fralick)

Team captain Sashank Rana explained that he and Dahal realized while studying that it would take an hour to walk to a nearby restaurant, eat and return to the Mason building. Rana said they created their concept to help students be more efficient with their time.

“For example, I work in Coda, but my classes are here in Mason,” Rana said. “While coming here, Tech Square is in between. If I get a notification saying somebody needs some food from Moe’s, I can get it from Tech Square and give it to somebody at Mason.

“So, it's a win for me, the restaurant, and also the student who ordered.”

Five judges look on at a presentation for the 2024 EIC competition

Judges Taylor Wright, Daveitta Knight, Aykut Urgen, Lisa Rosenstein and Thomas Heckman (l to r) look on as a team gives a presentation. (Photo by Melissa Fralick)

In response to a judge’s question of how they would compete with more established food delivery services, Rana replied that services like Uber Eats and Doordash, “don’t go inside the campus. We have to go all the way out. Students, they can roam around the campus, and that's why it’s easier.”

The team plans to launch their app in the upcoming fall semester and will utilize their winnings to pay for app development, marketing and also the design of tamper-proof packaging.

“We’re not only delivering food, but also peace of mind of the students, to the students, and for the students,” Rana summed up.

According to Principal Academic Professional Lisa Rosenstein, a member of the judging panel, the judges “responded to the specific need for this service on the GT campus and especially to the detailed implementation plan.”

Transportation Analytic Solution (TAS), the team of Reid Cabe and Madeleine Sanders, won the 2024 Zeitlin Innovation Award.

TAS’ concept is to address the cost of trucking industry accidents by creating a smartphone app that combines GPS, real-time traffic, and historical crash data to alert truckers of high-risk areas, potentially reducing accidents.

According to a 2018 study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, trucking accidents cost the industry $99 billion in that year alone. The trucking industry in the U.S. spends 13 cents per mile driven in insurance costs. TAS projects usage of its application could save the industry 3 cents a mile, for $9 billion in savings.

Zeitin Award winning team TAS with department chair Don Webster holding big check

Reid Cabe, left, and Madeline Sanders accept the Zeitliin Award check from Karen and John Huff School Chair Don Webster. (Photo by Melissa Fralick)

“Based on that, we want to market ourselves to insurance agencies which would then go to their clients and give them a discount for using the app,” explained Cabe. “The truckers make money because they get a discount, and then the insurance company would also make money because they will have to pay for less crashes and we will also get a part of that, too.”

The team, which based its model on crash data from the state of Georgia, also has data from 34 other states. TAS hopes to use the money from the Zeitlin award to “actually make this idea a reality, creating the software,” according to Sanders, who is in charge of data science for the team. “Then from there, running, pilot-testing, and seeing if our app actually works to change the driver's behavior,” she concluded.

“Driver behavior accounts for over 95% of crashes as opposed to the vehicle failing,” Cabe explained. “Almost all crashes are caused by driver behavior. The basic idea behind the app is, if we can change driver behavior, we could prevent these crashes.”

Rosenstein said the judges were impressed by the “detailed problem description and a new application for data science.  We also appreciated the large potential market for this idea if access to the data were expanded to the general public.”

The Entrepreneurial Impact Competition was established in 2021 to encourage a spirit of entrepreneurship in CEE students. The idea was led by Bill Higginbotham, CE 76, a serial entrepreneur and instructor who teaches Innovation and Entrepreneurship in CEE Systems. He endowed the Higginbotham Entrepreneurship Award, and Greg Zeitlin established the Zetilin Innovation Award in honor of his parents, Phyllis C. And Alan G. Zeitlin, CE 62.