Innovative and Creative Thinking

Four students who aired their dirty laundry in the Bear Innovation entrepreneurial competition walked away with a $7,500 prize and the chance to work with mentors to bring their laundry app to the marketplace.

Roland Mellies, Xioxiao Cheng, Youssef Boussen and Kerry Kynett presented Easy Laundry, a smartphone application that tracks usage and availability of campus washers and dryers, Saturday at the BEAR Innovation competition sponsored by the U-Imagine Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial Studies, and supported by Trustee Will Abele ’61.

Twenty teams presented their ideas before a panel of judges which included Nonya Collier of TD Bank, Rob Gilfillan ’91 of Cenero; Katie Iorio Martin ’88 of Dale Carnegie Franchies; Laurie Parise, P’17 of Youth Represent; Mark Schneider of Creative Intelligence Group; and Michelle Tanco ’14 of Terdata. The teams were guided by mentors who were alumni and community members. The competition was run by the center’s faculty directors, April Kontostathis, Math and Computer Science; Carol Cirka, Business and Economics; and Rebecca Jaroff, English.The Center is shifting the campus culture toward knowing how to think and challenging conventional thinking, say its directors.

Laundry can be a daunting task for college students, said Boussen introducing the Easy Laundry plan. “Leaving your laundry in a machine too long or forgetting it for a couple of hours can cause others to simply take it out and place it on the ground or on top of the machine,” he said in front of a slide showing piles of laundry in the laundry room. Easy Laundry is a smartphone application in sync with an energy measurement device that tracks the usage and availability of washing machines, and lets college students or individuals using public laundry machines know the machines’ availability of machines. They can also monitor when their laundry is finished.

Benjamin Allwein and Michael Esposito won second place and a $5,000 prize for Printing a New Future. “The goal of our business,” they said, “is to inspire a sense of awe and wonder in children and encourage them to participate actively in their community library by implementing 3-D printing technology.” The team said they would partner with a company which has created an educational software package, and consult with schools and libraries to make it accessible to all students regardless of socioeconomic or technological background.

Joseph B. Walsh III and Dysean Alexander won $3,000 for, a website in which a person looking to buy a book can be put in direct contact with someone selling that book.  The goal is to allow students to choose the price they want to pay for a book.” This will allow some to sell their books for a higher price than another source might pay for them.

Chris Hoops won $500 for “best presention” of The Greenline, a commuter rail line in western Montgomery County using an out of service freight railroad.

Katie Iorio Martin ’88, was the keynote speaker before the awards ceremony. The Dale Carnegie prize winners were Adelaide Hurlbert, Marcella (Ella) McGill and Sean Clark.

The U-Imagine Center’s benefits are not limited to business plan competitions. The Center has hosted  an intellectual property workshop, alumni environmental entrepreneur panel, an ethics writing prize and more. Its impact across disciplines with seminars, mentors and workshops is why it was recognized as an exemplary program among emerging entrepreneurship program at a leading national conference, The United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship last January.