On Monday, April 11, the final judging to the Innovation Challenge took place, leaving Nicole Rutherford with the first place prize, Ryan Lutes second, and Tyler Van Dyke and Jeb Shingler in third.
The event commenced with talk from Jason Stambaugh, class of 2007. A former political science major, he has taken advantage of the versatility of his liberal arts degree, starting a variety of local businesses. With the launch of the Encompass Distinction, he was contracted to be the school’s Entrepreneur in Residence.
Dr. Bryn Upton, the director of the Encompass Distinction, then highlighted the program. While the Innovation Challenge is sponsored by the Cisco Fund for Enterprise Management, the financial backbone of the Encompass Distinction, all McDaniel Students were invited to participate.
In total, McDaniel’s first Innovation Challenge received just over 20 submissions, with a few involving group collaboration. These were then narrowed down to a final five in the first round of judging. The top five were called upon to compete in this event. Finalists were judged by Steve Chapin, Jr., Steve Moore, and Deborah Dale Seidel ‘84—all local entrepreneurs and/or workers in finance and business.
Finalists had five minutes to present their products/services in front of an audience of students, faculty, staff, and, of course, the judges themselves. They were to assure the demand and feasibility of their ideas within this time. After this, the judges questioned the presenters on their ideas to further gather information on these ideas.
The finalists had a variety of ideas and levels of previous entrepreneurship. These included the following:
- “The Financial Literacy Project,” a project seeking to foster financial literacy among college students, by Nina Breece, Tyler Krebs, and Allen Calvert.
- “Flourished” by Nicole Rutherford, a business that will help fulfill the needs of wellness, fitness, and nutrition
- “Panta Rhei” by Tyler Van Dyke and Jeb Shingler, which is a company seeking to produce a variety of healthful beverages.
- “Ryan Lutes, LLC” by Ryan Lutes. This is an already existing company within the recycling industry differing from private haulers by providing a total turnkey solution.
- “Weavr” by Josh Peeling and Austin Royal. This social media apps hopes to connect people with similar interests to connect and solve the loneliness caused by other forms of social media.
Judges then left to debate the final placing. The unique situation in this round of judging was the rapidity—the results came not too long after the presentations.
In the end, the grand prize of $10,000 was awarded to senior Nicole Rutherford to go towards “Flourished.” The second prize of $5,500 went to junior Ryan Lutes for “Ryan Lutes, LLC,” and the third prize of $2,500 went to sophomore Tyler Van Dyke and junior Jeb Shingler—a total of $18,000 in prizes.