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Gold Medal Awarded for Industry Disruption at Blackstone LaunchPad Idea OlympicsPosted Mar. 10, 2014
Team Somato advances to regional EEC ideaLabs competition
The traditional, printed business card industry will have heavy competition when one Kent State university business comes to market.
Somato, a digital, custom business card app, created by Robin Bonatesta, a sophomore double major in computer science and fashion merchandising; Paul Dilyard, a junior digital science major; and Haley Underwood, a sophomore computer science major, took home the top prize of $2,000 in the 2014 Kent State annual business competition (renamed Idea Olympics this year). Somato was one of 10 finalist teams to pitch their business concepts on Feb. 27 before a panel of seven regional entrepreneurs that included Jim Cossler, CEO of the Youngstown Business Incubator; Réka Barbaras, executive director of Bad Girl Ventures; Laura Pettit Rusick, founder and president of OPT Solutions Inc.; Tom Rudibaugh, partner, Strategic Federal Tax Services at Grant Thornton; Pete Accorti, president of Talan Products; Joe Charles, founder and president of JLC Services Inc.; and Darrell McNair, president and CEO of MVP Plastics Inc.
“We are very excited to have won the Idea Olympics and to have had the opportunity to advance our business model with Somato,” says Bonatesta. All three teammates of Somato are members of the student organization Hacksu, and they built their winning app in January at MHacks, a 36-hour hackathon sponsored by the University of Michigan.
“This year’s annual Idea Olympics competition was a game changer, given the diverse range of ideas that applied,” says Julie Messing, executive director of entrepreneurship initiatives at Kent State’s Blackstone LaunchPad program. “More than 30 applications from 19 different majors were received for the competition, a record that reflects our program’s mission that anyone, regardless of their major, can be an entrepreneur,”
Two runner-up teams were each awarded $1,000 at the competition. Camden Fullmer and Daniel Gur, both seniors in computer science, won for Suggest, an app that makes gift-buying more efficient online. Ryan Schoeneman, a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in ecology, won for Axpress Custom Guitars, a portable, robo-milled guitar studio that can turn around a custom guitar within 24 hours.
The Somato team will represent Kent State at the 2014 ideaLabs competition, a regional competition sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (EEC), whose membership is made up of 11-member Northeast Ohio universities. The 2014 EEC ideaLabs competition will be held at Ashland University on April 3. For more information about the EEC ideaLabs competition, visit www.immersionweek.org/ideaLabs.htm.
Kent State’s Blackstone LaunchPad promotes entrepreneurship as a viable career path. Through mentoring, workshops and events, and connecting entrepreneurs to resources, Blackstone LaunchPad helps Kent State students, faculty, staff and alumni to create new startups or grow existing businesses in Northeast Ohio. For more information about Kent State's Blackstone LaunchPad, visit www.kent.edu/blackstonelaunchpad/index.cfm.