Innovation in action
Student ideas inspire industry leaders at KIN Global SummitBy Chris Serb
2013 KIN PRIZE AWARDS
|Jail Education Solutions
During the Kellogg Innovation Network Global Summit May 29–31, hundreds of delegates heard inspiring and visionary lectures, shared their own stories of global innovation at productive forums, and enjoyed entertainment that included a celebrity chef and Grammy-winning musicians. The event culminated in a student competition with $100,000 in prize money at stake. From business plan to action plan
“This isn’t a ‘business plan’ competition, it’s an ‘action plan’ competition,” says Robert Wolcott, a senior lecturer of entrepreneurship and innovation at Kellogg and a co-founder and executive director of KIN. “Our delegates — who come from for-profits, not-for profits, government, and academic institutions on all seven continents — can define ‘value’ in whatever way they want.”
Four teams of finalists had 10 minutes to summarize their projects. After the pitches, delegates had to allocate $500 to the projects they felt would have the greatest impact. The finalists
- JiveHealth aims to address the problem of global childhood obesity by making healthy foods hip for youngsters. “We are trying to build the ‘Tony the Tiger’ for fruits and vegetables,” says founder and CEO Dennis Ai (McCormick ’13). The group has developed games for the iPad, iPhone, and Android starring characters such as an apple-loving bear named Hugo.
- Vault Financial seeks to offer banking services for the “unbanked,” through bank cards and smartphones, already widely used by the company’s target low-income population. “We’ve had a good response during our market research, which included stalking people outside of pawn shops and payday lenders,” says co-founder Seth Capron ’13.
- SiNode Systems, which took home the grand prize from the Rice Business Plan Competition in April, has developed and patented groundbreaking battery technology that stores more energy and charges much faster than current batteries. “For us, ‘thinking bravely’ about our future includes mitigating the impact of climate change,” says CEO Samir Mayekar ’13.
- Jail Education Solutions (JES) provides and delivers television programming to the ultimate captive audience: jail inmates. By focusing on categories such as education and job skills, JES aims to inspire the population to turn their lives around. “We will revolutionize the jail experience and unlock this incredible human potential,” says Brian Hill ’15, co-founder and director of strategy and marketing.
JES earned the top prize. “The money we raised here will help us fund our Cook County launch in the fall,” Hill says. “This was crucial for us — not only the money but the prestige, which will open up more doors for us as we build JES into a national network.”
Wolcott feels that the focus on student ideas at KIN Global energized, and even inspired, the distinguished group of delegates.
“The more we encourage this kind of exploration among students, the more successful and powerful we can all be,” Wolcott says. “These students have an impressive level of energy, passion, and creativity, and leaders in all sectors can gain from these fresh perspectives.”