On January 24th, the Rist DifferenceMaker $50,000 Idea Challenge Kick-Off and Idea Hack was held in the Saab Center, Perry Atrium from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Dave Vatalaro, Rist DifferenceMaker Fellow, opened the event by welcoming everyone and providing introductions.
Then, Provost Joe Hartman spoke about the importance of solving problems and having a social impact. Then, he encouraged all attendees to apply to the $50,000 Idea Challenge.
Next, Rist DifferenceMaker Co-Op students Mina Lam and Nick Jarek, introduced the DifferenceMaker program. They explained details for the 11th Annual $50,000 Idea Challenge taking place this semester. The 2023 DifferenceMaker $50,000 Idea Challenge application is due February 13 at 5 p.m.!
After the introductory presentation, the real-life DifferenceMaker Panel and Q&A session took place! The panel consisted of members from past DifferenceMaker teams who answered questions from Nick Jarek and shared their entrepreneurial experiences with DifferenceMaker. First up was Visal Veng of Green Fertilizer, who won the 2021 Contribution to a Sustainable Environment prize, a $4,000 award. The Q&A was then followed up with Ariel Shramko and Eliot Pirone of Terminus, who won the 2021 Honorable Mention, a $2,000 award, answered questions and provided advice to the student audience.
Nick Jarek asked the panelists a series of questions which gave the student audience a better understanding of the requirements to be in the DifferenceMaker $50,000 Idea Challenge and more information about their startups. The audience then got the chance to ask the panelists valuable questions.
To close off this engaging event, Mina Lam spoke about the next steps in getting involved in DifferenceMaker and participating in the $50,000 Idea Challenge. The $50,000 Idea Challenge application is due by February 13 at 5 p.m.
The fifteen teams competing during the preliminary demonstration round were:
Catnap, team members Majd Elhachem, Michael Ciampo, Khadija El Hadad, Fritznere Brutus, and Matheus Fonseca
FilaMil, team members John Monsen, Garett Mallinson, Lethycia Sanchez, Rayyan Kherati, Jared Saye, and Emily LaBelle
Helping Hand, team members Chris Sabu, Justin Sousa, Sara Pourgol Mohamad, and Hermela Mekonen
JAMM Labs, team members Jacob Stover, Madelin Salazar, Allison Kelly, and Matthew Ikini
Oersted, team members Manuel Magayanes and Eduardo Magayanes
PackStrap, team members William Donohue, Katie Mcdonagh, Meredith Citrone, and Mattias Kantor
Physical Engineers, team members Kyle Callahan and Alexander Johnston
Pregnancy Back Brace, team members Marcela Villalta, Maria Belhous, Trevor Powers, Raygan Matte, and Kyle Laguerre
Project Poseidon, team members Abdullah Jasim, Dylan Cormier, Abdelsalam Abutabikh, Amr Elkordy, Jeswin Jees, Jessica Borst, Charles Kenny, and Mustafa Al Hado
RehaBand, team members Alexa DeVito, Maria Ferreira, Helen Kham, Timothy Roach, and Ardon Zibel
Sociable, team members Sydney Campano, Paulo Henrique Borges, Scott Harwood, Kileigh Crail, and Jerry Takang
Solar Crowdfund, team members Tolotra Samuel Randriakotonj, Muhammad Khalil, and Borna Doroudi
Solar Sails, team members Quin Liang and Aalap Patel
The Spectacle, team members Aryan Patil, Nicholas Sparages, Navya Garg, and Isidor Jankovich
Vital Sensing, team members Haris Kum, Thang Do, Wynn Wiggins, Dayang Wang, and Tran Thien Quy Nguyen.
The prototype demonstration and idea pitching round was held from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in the lobby of University Crossing. Each team had five minutes to present their product to a panel of preliminary judges, followed by a five-minute Q&A session. The preliminary judges were:
Jim Biggins, ‘03, Francis College of Engineering, President and CEO at Access Vascular
Bob Findlen, ‘81, Francis College of Engineering, Director of Sales and Marketing at PolySource
Joe Hallisey, ‘01, Francis College of Engineering, Director of Engineering, Automation Solutions Group at Brooks Automation
Beth Haskell, ‘84, Francis College of Engineering, Vice President of Business Development for Advanced Electronic Systems, Excelitas Technologies Corp
Ken Horton, ‘79, Francis College of Engineering, Managing Director, C2C LLC
During the prototype demonstration round, the judges scored each team based on the problem that was being solved, the opportunity that it holds, prototype quality, resources/implementation needed, presentation effectiveness, and overall project. After seeing each team’s pitch and demonstrations, the preliminary judges deliberated on which teams would move forward for the final round.
The teams that moved onto the final competition were:
Catnap, team members Majd Elhachem, Michael Ciampo, Khadija El Hadad, Fritznere Brutus, and Matheus Fonseca
FilaMill, team members John Monsen, Garett Mallinson, Lethycia Sanchez, Rayyan Kherati, Jared Saye, and Emily LaBelle
PackStrap, team members team members William Donohue, Katie Mcdonagh, Meredith Citrone, and Mattias Kantor
Physical Engineers, team members team members Kyle Callahan and Alexander Johnston
RehaBand, team members Alexa DeVito, Maria Ferreira, Helen Kham, Timothy Roach, and Ardon Zibel
Solar Sails, team members Quin Liang and Aalap Patel
Meanwhile, the prototype public viewing was held from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. in the lobby of University Crossing. Event attendees which consisted of students, faculty, community friends, and family each had three votes to disperse to the teams they liked the best. The team that had the most DifferenceMaker Dollars would be awarded the $500 Fan Favorite Award.
The Final Round Competition was held in Moloney Hall from 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. It began with opening remarks by Dean Sherwood and Provost Hartman. Next, the five finalist teams pitched their ideas on stage and demonstrated their prototype to the panel of final judges.
After all the presentations the final judges deliberated and selected the winners for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes. Additionally, the Fan Favorite votes were counted and the winner of the Fan Favorite award was announced.
The final awards were:
1st Place, $2,500, as well as automatically advancing to the Rist DifferenceMaker $50,000 Idea Challenge Preliminary Pitch-off in April 2023, Catnap – Majd Elhachem, Michael Ciampo, Khadija El Hadad, Fritznere Brutus, and Matheus Fonseca
2nd Place, $1,500, Solar Sails – Quin Liang and Aalap Patel
3rd place, $1,000, – RehaBand – Alexa DeVito, Maria Ferreira, Helen Kham, Timothy Roach, and Ardon Zibel
Fan Favorite, $500 – Project Poseidon – Abdullah Jasim, Dylan Cormier, Abdelsalam Abutabikh, Amr Elkordy, Jeswin Jees, Jessica Borst, Charles Kenny, and Mustafa Al Hado
Thank you to everyone who attended and supported this event!
On December 1, 2022, Rist DifferenceMaker Institute held the 10th Annual DCU/Manning School of Business Innovation Contest from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. at University Crossing, Moloney Hall. To kick off the event, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs for the Manning School of Business and Event Emcee of the evening, Amit Deokar provided welcoming remarks.
After the remarks, the finalist judges were introduced. The judges for the evening were:
– Edward Gallagher ‘84, Senior Vice President (retired), Northeast Division, Comcast Business Services
– Hoang Nguyen ‘07, Director of Finance, DCU
– Sandesh Parulekar, Director of Information Systems Development, DCU
– Darcie Sunnerberg ‘87, Vice President/Sovereign Analyst, Loomis Sayles and Company
Once all judges were introduced, the event began! Five student finalist teams were given ten minutes to present their ideas, along with five minutes of Q&A from the judges. The teams that presented were:
– AlgoPal, team members Edvard Nordlund, Matthew Crasa, Gabriel Blanchard, Isac Jonsson, Stefan Owens
– Bridged Connection, team members Isaac Carpio and Dumark Ramirez
– PayDay, team members Nick Woolsey, Andrew Tarnowski, Daniella Pacheco
– PTB – Private Teller Booths, team members Nicole Chanquet, Sharon Banks-Obanor, Jesse Kajko, and Mustafa Bellakhdar
– Solar Crowdfund, team members Tolotra Samuel, Muhammad Khalil, and Borna Doroundi
Each semi-finalist team member won $100. The teams’ idea ranged from topics such as algorithmic trading, AI teller booth, crowdfunding platform, and more. After each pitch, judges asked questions to help them further understand the ideas. The judges ranked each team based on how clearly they explained their executive summary, mission statement, business goals, market analysis, how they would utilize funding, and project timeline.
Following the presentations, judges went to a separate area to deliberate the final winner. During this time, all attendees got food, networked with each other, and further discussed the inspiration and details of the ideas that were pitched.
Around 8:00 pm, the judges returned to announce the final award. Congratulations to team Solar Crowdfund for winning the final prize of $500 per team member! They also automatically advance to the DifferenceMaker Preliminary Pitch-off this spring.
In total, DCU awarded $2,300 to student teams at this event.
Interested in pitching an idea and getting funding?
On November 30th, The Rist DifferenceMaker Institute held the 4th Annual High School Idea Challenge from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the UMass Lowell Mark & Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center.
To kick-off the event, Gina Mustoe, teacher at Westford Academy, gave opening remarks. She then passed the stage to Provost Joe Hartman, who shared inspiring words to the students about of the importance of making a positive impact in the world by developing creative ideas.
Next, David Vatalaro, Rist DifferenceMaker Fellow, Rist DifferenceMaker Institute, presented an overview of DifferenceMaker, sharing the benefits and opportunities the program offers. Then, Tom O’Donnell, Senior Director, Innovation Initiatives, UMass Lowell, introduced the judges and emceed the event.
After the judge introductions, the event began. The audience was excited to hear the creative ideas from each high school student team. Each pitching team had 5 minutes to present, followed by 5 minutes of judge Q&A. The judges deliberated after all of the presentations!
Congratulations to all teams that presented and won awards!
1st place, $500 – Braydon Gray, Gabriel Silva, and Catherine West, Chelmsford High School – “The Hcky Stick” – A collapsible hockey stick made from high quality plastic that is easy to store.
2nd place, $300 – Laney Beahn, Sara Lewis, Grace Mathieu, Ava Mills, and Chloe Vescio, Blackstone Regional High School – “Medimate” – A sanitizing device that kills bacteria from shoes.
3rd place, $200 – Isaac Cho and Dan Ottesen, Westford Academy – “Sleepytime Supplements” – a pack of milk and cookies with melatonin and valerian to help users with falling asleep.
After the presentations, lunch was served, and round table mentor meetings took place between past DifferenceMaker teams and the high school teams. Each high school team had a 15-minute mentor session with the DifferenceMaker college students, in which they got the opportunity to speak with every mentor.
Thank you to the past DifferenceMaker teams who volunteered their time to support and inspire the high school students:
On Wednesday, September 21, 2022, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m., DifferenceMaker held its 2022 Season Kick-off and College Competition Announcement!
Holly Lalos, Director, Rist DifferenceMaker Institute, kicked off the event and thanked all the DifferenceMaker Faculty Fellows. Next, Provost Joe Hartman shared inspiring words to the students about of the importance of making a positive impact in the world by developing creative ideas. Then, Mina Lam and Nick Jarek were introduced – two Rist DifferenceMaker CO-OPs. They presented an overview of the program and spoke about the opportunities DifferenceMaker offers, such as team building, being paired with mentors, learning critical skills through events and workshops, and being able to connect with diverse students from various backgrounds. Past DifferenceMaker student team examples were also presented: Hoppers, Minds with Purpose, and Tendren.
Lastly, DifferenceMaker benefits and impact were presented, such as $7 million has been raised by past winning teams and 40 companies have been formed.
After Nick and Mina spoke, guest speakers were introduced to discuss details regarding the three DifferenceMaker College Competitions.
Ruairi O’Mahony, Executive Director of the Rist Institute for Sustainability, and Craig Thomas, Assistant Director, spoke about the S.E.E.D. Grant Program. This program provides students funding to pursue projects around campus that focus on sustainability and improving the campus atmosphere. Students can apply for grants up to $10,000 to put their campus sustainability projects into action.
Next was a DifferenceMaker song performance by Mina Lam. She developed this song about DifferenceMaker using the instrumentals from Lin Manuel Miranda’s song, “My Shot” from Hamilton, the Broadway musical. This performance excited the room for the next part of the event – the hands-on activity.
Concluding the announcements, David Vatalaro, Rist DifferenceMaker Fellow, presented the details for a fun, interactive, ideation activity.
Each table was asked to write down problems each individual was interested in solving. From there, each team discussed all individual problems and chose one to focus on for the remainder of the activity. Each person at the table then wrote down potential solutions to the proposed problem. Next, each team voted on which solution was the best or most creative. After that, the team members crafted models of their solutions with Legos. Each table had the opportunity to present their problem, solution, and Lego structure with the audience.
Holly Lalos closed out the event. Thank you to all students, faculty, alumni, and supporters who attended!
On July 13, from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m., DifferenceMaker hosted Demo Day. At this event, the 2022 DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge Finalists presented their updated and improved ideas since advancing in the 2022 DifferenceMaker Summer Boot Camp.
Holly Lalos, Director, Rist DifferenceMaker Institute, opened up the event for the evening. To start, she presented to the audience a brief overview of the DifferenceMaker program. DifferenceMaker is a campus-wide program that helps students define problems and create real-life solutions to those problems.
One of the ways this is done is during the DifferenceMaker Summer Boot Camp. The objective of the Boot Camp is to increase teams’ understanding of their customer segments, business model, revenue streams, and more. Teams are also encouraged to develop a one-year project plan with milestones and tasks for utilizing their winning funds.
Holly thanked everyone who makes DifferenceMaker possible – faculty fellows, co-op students, mentors, and advisors. The Boot Camp Advisors this year were:
Tom O’Donnell, Innovation Initiatives Senior Director, Innovation Hub Director, Visiting Faculty from the Manning School of Business
Demo Day helps teams advance their progress, gain critical feedback, and network with mentors. To begin the event, David Vatalaro, Rist DifferenceMaker Fellow, discussed mentor matching steps. Surveys for both mentors and teams were sent out shortly after the event. From the survey results, teams will be paired to the appropriate mentor(s) based on their backgrounds, skills, and interests.
David Vatalaro, Rist DifferenceMaker Fellow, explained the steps needed to be made for the mentor matching process.
Next, the event opened to student team presentations! Each team had 5 minutes to present, and 5 minutes for audience Q&A. They pitched about their business plans, customer discovery findings, value propositions, and benefit that their products would have for society. Potential mentors asked valuable questions to the teams throughout the evening.
On Wednesday, April 13, 2022, DifferenceMaker hosted the 10th Annual $50,000 Idea Challenge at University Crossing, Moloney Hall, Room 260.
The event began at 5 p.m. with a networking reception and poster viewing. The ten finalist student teams showcased their projects to students, faculty, and alumni. Attendees were given “DifferenceMaker dollars” to distribute to their favorite teams for “Fan Favorite”.
At 8:30 p.m., the final awards ceremony and closing remarks took place. Holly Lalos, Director, Rist DifferenceMaker Institute welcomed everyone back. She then introduced Brian Rist, ‘77, Manning School of Business, Chairman, Rist Family Foundation. Mr. Rist announced the winners.
Congratulations to all teams!
Rist Campus-Wide DifferenceMaker – $6,000 – Amara: A social media platform with transparency and a better algorithm. Brandon Conceicao, Adam Iskandar, Biology
Commitment to a Sustainable Environment – $4,000 – ThermoEXA: Intelligent and personalized indoor temperature control through unique biometrics recognition. Ariel Pena-Martinez, Computer Engineering, and Grissel Cervantes-Jaramillo
Jack. M. Wilson First Product to Market Award (Sponsored by Jack Wilson, President Emeritus) – $4,000 – Hoppers: A board game that fosters education, communication skills, and creativity for younger children. Abigail White, Biology, Alyssa Kennedy, Biology
Sutherland Innovative Technology Solution (Sponsored by Andrew Sutherland ’94) – $4,000 – Tendren: A wireless pulse oximeter combined with an ECG/blood pressure to track patients in the waiting room. Ethan Block, Biomedical Engineering, Amie Russell Biomedical Engineering, Victoria Williams, Biomedical Engineering
Contribution to a Healthier Lifestyle – $4,000 – PEAK Performance: A device that assesses/corrects rotational misalignments between the pelvis and spine.
Evelyn Duffy, Biomedical Engineering and Business, Mark Elman, Biomedical Engineering, Steven Evangelos Biomedical Engineering, Matthew Martel, Exercise Science
Significant Social Impact – $4,000 – Minds with Purpose: A networking platform that unites people of different professions, areas, and styles. Sammy Santana, Liberal Arts, Jeurys Santiago, Business
Honorable Mention – $2,000 – StockToMe: A stock opinion community where anybody can post an opinion about a stock. Matthew Allen, Business, Matthew Kinash, Business – Entrepreneurship, Jackson Sterrett, Business
Honorable Mention – $2,000 – USuccess: A program to help individuals’ financial situations through education. Kaitlyn Catron, Business, Kyle Knapp, Business, Anna Kouadio, Business, Mikaela Murphy, Business, Nyna Pendkar, Business
Honorable Mention – $2,000 – Vital Sensing Patch: An all-in-one, affordable vitals monitoring device that can be used anywhere. Thang Do, Biomedical Engineering, Haris Kum, Biomedical Engineering, Wynn Wiggins, Business – Entrepreneurship
Fan Favorite – $1,000 – MetaLingual: Virtual Reality experience containing servers of various 6D 360 immersive environments that promotes language learning that offers a real-life experience. Aiman Baig, Computer Science, Nihal Chaudhary, Language Studies, Haris Waqar, Electrical Engineering, Isa Ahmed, Business – Accounting, Samuel Lugo, Electrical Engineering, Zuhair Shaikh Computer Science
To close off the night, Joseph Hartman, Provost and Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, UMass Lowell closed off the event. He mentioned a quote that Jeurys Santiago, CEO, Minds with Purpose, posted on LinkedIn after the Preliminary Pitch-Off – “I’m here today because I failed last year!” This showcases that if you put your mind towards working on your passions, hard work pays off.
On Wednesday, April 6, DifferenceMaker held its 10th Annual 2022 Preliminary Pitch-Off at O’Leary Library on South Campus. This year, 24 student teams got the opportunity to pitch their creative, innovative ideas to a panel of guest judges. Overall, 18 judges were a part of this event. At the end of the event, ten finalist student teams were announced and will be competing on April 13 at the 10th Annual DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge for a chance to win a portion of $50,000.
Congratulations to the ten finalist teams!
Amara Team members:Brandon Conceicao, Vision & Design; Adam Iskandar, Biology & Business Project Description: A social media platform with transparency and better algorithm.
Hoppers Team members: Alyssa Kennedy, Biology; Abigail White, Biology Project Description: A board game that supports the arts and fosters education, communication skills, and creativity for younger children.
Minds With Purpose Team members: Sammy Santana, Liberal Arts; Jeurys Santiago, Business Project Description: A networking platform with the aim of bringing together people of different professions, areas, and styles.
PEAK Performance Team members: Evelyn Duffy, Biomedical Engineering and Business; Mark Elman, Biomedical Engineering; Steven Evangelos, Biomedical Engineering; Matthew Martel, Exercise Science Project Description: A device [the PEAK Performance System] that assesses and corrects rotational misalignments between the pelvis and thoracic spine.
StockToMe Team members: Matthew Allen, Business; Matthew Kinash, Business; Jackson Sterrett, Business Project Description: A stock opinion community where anybody can post an opinion about a stock.
Tendren Team members:Ethan Block, Biomedical Engineering; Amie Russell, Biomedical Engineering; Victoria Williams, Biomedical Engineering Project Description: A wireless pulse oximeter combined with an ECG and blood pressure that tracks a patient’s vitals while in the waiting room
ThermoEXA Team members: Ariel Pena-Martinez, Computer Engineering; Grissel Cervantes-Jaramillo Project Description: Intelligent and personalized indoor temperature control through unique biometrics recognition.
UMass Lowell Japanese Student Association Team member:Mina Lam, Business Project Description: An organization dedicated to promoting greater awareness of Japanese culture through general meetings, social media, and collaborations with UML clubs.
USuccess Team members: Kaitlyn Catron, Business; Kyle Knapp, Business; Anna Kouadio, Business; Mikaela Murphy, Business; Nyna Pendkar, Business Project Description: A program to help individuals’ financial situations through education.
Vital Sensing Patch Team members: Thang Do, Biomedical Engineering; Haris Kum, Biomedical Engineering; Wynn Wiggins, Entrepreneurship Project Description: All-in-one vital monitoring device, that will be affordable to consumers and can be used anywhere.
DifferenceMaker would like to extend a special thanks to the guest judges:
Semi-finalist teams attended this session to learn about delivering their rocket pitch for the Preliminary Pitch-off on April 6th. At this event, teams have a chance to advance to the $50,000 Idea Challenge Final event. The semi-finalist teams who will be pitching at the Preliminary Pitch-off are:
404! – Team members: Madhav Makadia and Kofi Kissi Project Description: A dating app for fitness-focused people.
Amara – Team members: Adam Iskandar, Krishna Kanagarayer, and Brandon Amara Project Description: A social media platform with transparency and improved algorithms.
BLACK – Team member: Kristin Kihara Project Description: A magazine line that highlights black creators.
Cerebrum – Team members: Solomon Enowmanyi, Linnea Zagaeski, Xiomara Matathias, and Bahara Hussaini Project Description: A peace and conflict resolution program.
ChainBlock – Team members: Hirschfield Ssozi and Aymaan Shaikh Project Description: A blockchain-based banking system like cryptocurrency.
DataMiNation – Team members: Kanan Asif Project Description: Free training programs on hard skills and professional skills for young people who cannot afford to learn from other paid sources.
Draw a Print – Team members: Daniel GermanGeorge, Jonathan Aguilar, Philopater Askander, Theresa Foley, Ruolin Zho, and Yibo Li Project Description: A 3D printing tool that facilitates training both in industry and academia.
FC Pack Design – Team member: Felix CarpioDelRosario Project Description: A backpack to help ease weight and help the realignment of the spinal cord and back.
Gotham – Team member: Kamal Norford Project Description: Improving and refurbishing automotive technology.
Hoppers – Team members: Abigail White and Alyssa Kennedy Project Description: A board game that supports the arts and fosters education, communication skills, and creativity for younger children.
Innovation X Industries – Team members: Joshua Saunders, Rowan Trotter, Ryan Baker, and Nathan Savoie Project Description: An innovative pipe shut-off system for a smarter home to conserve water after a pipe burst.
Insulated and Shock Absorbent Foam 3D Printed Covers – Team members: Karun Kalia, Ninad Khadse, and Shallal Alshammari Project Description: Foamed and flexible insulated covers for cell phones to minimize battery drainage in cold weather conditions.
MBM – Team member: Elyas Irankhah Project Description: A system designed to anticipate the appropriate time for injecting F-8 in hemophilia patients.
MetaLingual – Team members: Aiman Baig, Haris Waqar, Zuhair Shaikh, Samuel LugoMedina, and Isa Ahmed Project Description: Virtual Reality experience containing servers of various 6D 360 immersive environments.
Minds With Purpose– Team members: Jeurys Santiago, Jennifer Lerman, and Sammy Santana Project Description: A networking platform with the aim of bringing together people of different professions, areas, and styles.
PEAK Performance – Team members: Steven Evangelos, Matthew Martel, Evelyn Duffy, and Mark Elman Project Description: A device [the PEAK Performance System] that assesses and corrects rotational misalignments between the pelvis and thoracic spine.
Rune World – Team members: John Doherty and Linnea Zagaeski Project Description: A board game designed around helping children with autism improve their social skills.
Speakup – Team member: Matheus Perazolla Project Description: A platform/app which provides English classes focused on immigrant necessities and needs.
StockToMe– Team members: Matthew Kinash, Jackson Sterrett, and Matthew Allen Project Description: A stock opinion community where anybody can post an opinion about a stock.
Study Meet – Team members: Solomon Wambuzi, Gissel Bonilla, Brendaliz Cabada Morel, and Ester Rosario Project Description: An application that focuses on benefiting students that feel left out of the college experience.
SunGum – Team members: Chris Behm, Andrew Bernard, and Nolan Buckley Project Description: Chewing gum fortified with vitamin D to combat vitamin D deficiencies and seasonal depression.
Tendren – Team members: Ethan Block, Amie Russell, and Victoria Williams Project Description: A wireless pulse oximeter combined with an ECG and blood pressure that tracks a patient’s vitals while in the waiting room.
ThermoEXA – Team members: Ariel Pena-Martinez, Mohamed Martini, Gerardo Gomez Perez, and Grissel Cervantes-Jaramillo Project Description: Intelligent and personalized indoor temperature control through unique biometrics recognition.
Trade Bozz Investment Corp. – Team members: Toney Benny and Sebastian Pascal Project Description: A financial literacy platform focused on helping Gen Z and Millennials build wealth via the stock market.
Traffic Lighthouse – Team member: Alexa Grazio Project Description: A portable traffic light that can be placed on top of 18-wheeler trucks to alert cars.
UMass Lowell Japanese Student Association – Team member: Mina Lam Project Description: An organization dedicated to promoting greater awareness of Japanese culture through general meetings, social media, and collaborations with UMass Lowell clubs.
USuccess – Team members: Nyna Pendkar, Mikaela Murphy, Anna Kouadio, Kyle Knapp, and Kaitlyn Catron Project Description: A program to help individuals’ financial situations through education.
Vital Sensing Patch – Team members: Wynn Wiggins, Thang Do, and Haris Kum Project Description: An all-in-one vitals monitoring device, that will be affordable to consumers and can be used anywhere.
Then, Professor Cathy Levey opened and discussed the content that should be addressed during the DifferenceMaker pitch presentation: the problem, opportunity, solution, needed resources, as well as being prepared for judge questions. She also spoke about additional considerations to look out for during and after the rocket pitch session.
Afterwards, Rick Sherburne spoke about the challenge of presenting an idea. To tackle this, he discussed being confident and sharing your topic with lots of energy and passion. In addition, he mentioned the reasons why people struggle with stage fright. Self-consciousness in front of large groups, past failures, and fear of being nervous are a few examples. He also talked about having relevant pictures on each slide, as well as limiting the words per slide, which helps keep the audience engaged.
Mr. Sherburne also facilitated an engaging activity where the students were encouraged to stand up and say “oh” to various scenarios. This allowed the students to see how tone changes based on the scenario you are in. For example, the volume and tone used is different when looking at an infant versus seeing a win at a sporting event.
To conclude the night, Professor Kevin Willett highlighted examples of past student team presentations, such as III Point Stick. This allowed students to compare what they just learned to an actual pitch presentation that occurred. Students can watch and learn from other past pitches that are on the DifferenceMaker YouTube page, which can be utilized while practicing for the Preliminary Pitch-off.
On Thursday, February 24th, DifferenceMaker held Workshop 3: Developing Business Models and Solutions in Lydon Library, Room 110, North Campus, from 5:30 – 7 p.m. This session helped student teams who applied to the $50,000 Idea Challenge to focus on their idea’s solutions by piecing together their business models.
To kick off the night, Holly Lalos, Director, Rist DifferenceMaker Institute welcomed everyone. She then provided students with information on submitting their Idea Plan, announcements for semi-finalists, and reminders to schedule a meeting for one-on-one coaching with mentors. Then, she introduced the guest presenters for the night, who were Professor Carter Keough, Francis College of Engineering, and Tom O’Donnell, Senior Director, Innovation Initiatives.
Professor Keough started off by providing examples of companies such as Gillette, FedEx, Zipcar, and Pill Pack. Each are successful companies in their own way, all from various industries in today’s market. For example, Gillette makes their profit by selling cheap razor handles that go along with expensive, high quality razor blades that attach to them. This allows customers to stay loyal to their brand, as they need to continually purchase the specific Gillette blades that fit to the handle that they already own.
Then, Mr. O’Donnell went further in depth and explained the multiple components needed to have a successful business model. He discussed factors such as the new venture timeline and each component of the business model canvas, such as customer segments, value proposition, revenue streams, and more. This allowed students to think deeply about details that will drive their ideas to success in the real world.
After the detailed lessons, the guest presenters encouraged students to work on their business models and solutions. They utilized business model canvas poster boards and solution worksheets to assist with this process. A business model canvas glossary was also provided to each student to help refresh their memory on the information that was provided. DifferenceMaker mentors Ryan Berube, Vice President, Commercial Loan Officer, Lowell Five and Steve DeVries, FocalPoint Certified Business and Executive Coach, FocalPoint Coaching walked around and further helped guide students towards creating a well-developed Idea Plan.
Thank you to everyone that joined DifferenceMaker for Workshop 3! If you are interested in learning how to further develop your project for the $50,000 Idea Challenge, recruiting new team members, and gaining new skills, please register for the final workshop this semester. Dinner will be served!