The inaugural +Tech Innovation Jam concluded Friday, November 12, with presentations from the competition’s five finalists. Over 200 students across the University of Michigan participated in the five-week event, which Business+Tech Managing Director Phil Brabbs envisioned four years ago as a way to connect students across university disciplines. Following a theme of “Staying connected through technology in a continuously changing world,” teams began with an idea and produced a pitch deck and working prototype.
The winning team, Ouido, received a $5,000 prize and entry into Michigan Ross’s selective Living Business Leadership Experience course. Runners-up Green and Hand in Hand received $3,000 and $2,000 respectively.
Ouido – (First place)
Team members: Akhila Kosaraju, Zelda Hu, Didsayachai Prirungruang, Jihee Yoon
“Are we living in a toxic digital age?” The winning team behind Ouido thinks so, and their idea presents a new outlet for story telling in the form of audio blogs. Users can upload stories and listen to other experiences, grouped by topic or emotion. Ouido aims to serve as a safe digital space that promotes sharing real experiences and fosters deep connections. According to team members, the benefits of audio as a medium is its ability to convey tone and emotion, creating an immersive storytelling experience for users.
Green (Second Place)
Team members: Cory Cooney, Devlin McConnell, Jeremy Huang, Karon Green, Xinyi Wang
“Send love, your way,” is the tagline of Green, an app-based solution to what team members say is a “gifting communication problem.” Acknowledging the time and stress costs of gift giving, the team hopes to capitalize on the $640 billion market by providing a machine learning platform that leverages content-based and collaborative data to provide customized gift recommendations. Additional features include a gift calendar, loyalty program and charity campaign. Targeting young professionals, the app aims to serve users time and reduce stress while serving as a marketplace for vendors.
Hand in Hand (Third Place)
Team Members: April Tsai and Lilly Wu
Hand in Hand’s team members channeled their passions for volunteering and community service into an app that connects interested volunteers with the right organizations, and vice versa. With a goal to build from the wave of solidarity across the world post-pandemic, the app addresses the disconnect occurring between volunteers eager to help and organizations in need of support. Users complete a survey about their volunteer preferences and submit applications to organizations of interests, while organizations can browse through potential volunteers to match their needs with those willing to help.
Team members: Alex De Iglesia, Shaun Jose, Jake Li, Molly Kraine
Zen aims to connect older people to each other and the world around them to help form groups and build long-lasting relationships. The app’starget audience is seniors near or at retirement age experiencing a heightened sense of loneliness, lack of purpose and feelings of isolation. Claiming that traditional social media app’s neglect the desires of individuals over 55, the Zen team seeks to facilitate connections through events, chats and affinity groups.
Team members: Chue Lor, Zhihui Zhu, Jason Ding, Harshita Pilla, Katarina Nguyen
ConnectU’s product addresses the financial stress, social isolation and worsening health outcomes of retirement with a solution to bridge an aging population to the resources and community they need to live a fulfilling life. The product serves as a job matching platform, community advocate resources and a skills assessment, providing retirees with the resources they need to build a meaningful post-retirement life.