Students showcase entrepreneurial spirit at innovation challenge

Innovation challenge winners Sydney Parks and Aaron Kleinert pitch their product to judges.

This year’s Lynn University Innovation Challenge welcomed students and employees April 30, to pitch their business models to a panel of esteemed judges—Rhys L. Williams, FAU Tech Runway director; David Chitester, Florida Funders founder; and Debbie Lanford, a small business marketing and expansion expert.  

The challenge was comprised of a 12-week program open to Lynn students, faculty and staff. Eleven teams pitched their ideas in a preliminary stage early this spring and three were selected for final presentations to compete for a spot on FAU Tech Runway, a partnership formed to foster early-stage technology companies.

Juniors Aaron Kleinert and Sydney Parks took first place for their running app and attachable shoe device, Shoedometer. Inspired by Parks’ mother, an avid runner, Shoedometer aims to give recreational runners the same level of accessibility to data as professional and collegiate athletes. It can educate users on stride, cadence, distance and mileage on each pair of shoes worn. The product also has an online community with educational resources. 

“Shoedometer wants you to own your health one step at a time,” said Parks. A clear contender in the entrepreneurial community, Parks was named a University of South Florida Frank and Ellen Daveler Entrepreneurship Program 2018 Scholar at another pitch for the product.

Kidzspace, conceptualized by MBA students Larry Claxton and Johanna Wilson, also presented a strong case to the judges. Claxton and Wilson’s mobile app connects a community of parents and children with aftercare partners to provide a safe, friendly environment. 

The third team, Ecolife, led by Associate Professor Mark D. Jackson and MBA students D’Andra Sweeting and Sanchia Roache, received an honorable mention for their product, codenamed Algaeeater. “Our purpose is to partner with pool owners to keep pools clean for less money and less impact,” said Jackson. “This product is a greener way to a cleaner pool.”

Both Kidzspace and Ecolife will receive free access to business consultants.

Past challenge winners include Max Vanderploeg ’15, ’17 for Autopark; Chad Barr, associate professor of sports management, for Tab-Legs; Miguel Sonnack ’15 for SK5 speakers; Stephany Lopez Da Silva ’16 for All Shapes and Colors; and Cameron Hewes ’17 for Cam Co. 

To learn more about the 2019 competition, contact Dr. RT Good, dean of the College of Business and Management.  

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