Olin Cup finalists offer innovative solutions, compete for top prize

​Looking to turn your smart phone into a wallet? Manage anxiety? Build a better hamstring? There’s an Olin Cup finalist for that.

Ten finalists in the 2014 Olin Cup Competition are offering novel solutions to real-world challenges and will vie for $70,000 in seed money to start a new company. The Olin Cup is sponsored by the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis.

Twenty-one semifinalists competed in the “elevator pitch” challenge, held Nov. 6 at Washington University, where each team gave a two-minute presentation of its business idea, then participated in a five-minute Q&A session with judges representing the St. Louis entrepreneurial investment community.

After presenting to the judges, the teams pitched their ideas to a public audience, with prizes for the audience member who came closest to picking the judges’ selections and for the team that received the most No. 1 votes from the audience. Pai Liu, a PhD-candidate in the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering, received a $250 prize for selecting nine of 10 finalists who were chosen by the judges. The audience’s favorite team was Applied Particle Technology, which received a $1,000 award.

Before announcing the finalists as selected by the judges, Emre Toker, managing director of the Skandalaris Center, used the occasion to also announce that the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies has changed its name to the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“This reflects the mission of the Skandalaris Center as the inclusive training center for all students and all faculty interested in new ideas and new ventures,” Toker said. “This year’s finalists represent five of Washington University’s seven schools. We will work with the teams in the next several weeks to help them refine their business plans for January presentations to our judges to determine who is best prepared to win funding and equipped to succeed with their venture. We look forward to even more participation from students and faculty in all schools next year.”

This year’s finalists are:

  • Applied Particle Technology, providing innovative air treatment and filtration solutions for specialty applications that require high efficiency removal of ultra-fine particles, inactivation of pathogens and/or removal of toxic fumes and odors.
  • Dabble, an online marketplace for in-person classes in the community revolutionizing an $8-billion social education market.
  • DataDog Health, striving to manage and reduce anxiety. By leveraging wearable devices and evidence-based therapies, the DataDog app and Web portal provide anxiety-coping tools with real-time feedback.
  • EnteroGauge, a medical device startup poised to revolutionize how single balloon enteroscopy is performed, radically altering the diagnosis and treatment of pathologies in the small intestine.
  • GeoDataDepot, a data service provider of aggregated geocode-indexed big data with many implications and uses. GeoDataDepot will exponentially increase the value of datasets by reshaping and reimagining data through geocoding, linking by geography, and enriching with community and neighborhood characteristic.
  • HamStrong, a prosthetic hamstring, which, along with two workout protocols, (one for rehabilitation and one for injury prevention) dramatically reduces recovery time for those suffering from hamstring injuries.
  • kit-case, a platform technology that transforms your smart phone into a fully functioning wallet – with kit-case, you can “Simply Take It With You!”
  • Love Will Inc., developing block-chain based financial tools. Its first product, Pheeva, is a mobile bitcoin wallet and peer-to-peer transaction application that enables individuals and businesses to store, send and receive money instantaneously, and for no cost.
  • Nanaya, providing a Web service to the consumer, a market of approximately $4 billion, that offers objective affirmation of romantic and social decisions through algorithmic decision analysis. Data obtained from consumers, required for the algorithm, is highly personal and valuable for marketing and industrial analytics, a market of approximately $9.5 billion domestically.
  • PIXI Medical, a healthcare company developing the PIXI™ Portal, a counter-top device and software to automatically dispense medication, record user data, and improve compliance – making missed medications a thing of the past.

The finalists will compete again in January 2015, with each submitting a business plan and oral presentation to the judges in the final phase of the competition.

The Olin Cup winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in January. Created as a cross-campus activity in 1988 by Olin Business School, the Olin Cup has awarded funding to winning commercial ventures since 2003.

The competition is sponsored by Olin Business School and the Skandalaris Center; accounting firm RubinBrown; law firm Polsinelli; and the St. Louis Regional Chamber.