Proxi competes in Elevate competition

Wheaton’s own Shark Tank winner, Proxi, battled against six teams in a regional match for $20,000 and the chance to move on to the final rounds of the El­evate competition in Silicon Valley, CA.

Wheaton’s own Shark Tank winner, Proxi, battled against six teams in a regional match for $20,000 and the chance to move on to the final rounds of the El­evate competition in Silicon Valley, CA. The judges selected RapidSOS, a business start-up from Harvard University, to re­ceive the cash prize and Relief­watch from the University of Chicago for second place and a trip to Silicon Valley to com­pete nationally for $50,000.
The Christian business com­petition, modeled after Shark Tank, was a partnership among schools in the Council of Chris­tian Colleges and Universi­ties, and was held at Wheaton for the first time in its history.
Teams also travelled from As­bury University in Kentucky, Tay­lor University in Indiana, and over 600 miles from Roberts Wesleyan College in upstate New York.
The team from Asbury Uni­versity, comprised of Alyssa Daniels, a business major, and Anna McKain, an exercise sci­ence major, hoped to introduce and expand a mobile fitness center, called “Life Unlimited,” run out of a repurposed truck for low-income neighborhoods.
Daniels told the Record, “We partnered with two major food markets in Cincinnati, and they provide us with their fresh, healthy foods.” Low-income participants from the neighbor­hood receive a free meal after workouts with Life Unlimited.
One criterion of the compe­tition was each product’s faith inspiration. Daniels said that healthy living was an act of wor­ship, and that her team would put emphasis on building com­munity in her fitness-truck.
“We’re not profit-building,” she said, “We’re people-building.”
Harvard Business student Ahron Oddman, offered one of the most out-of-the-box plans: a mobile app that lets custom­ers temporarily hire travel­ling barbers to cut hair in the comfort of their own home.
“Uber for barbers, if you will,” Oddman told the Re­cord, comparing his ser­vice to the recently invented taxi-ordering mobile service.
Oddman was inspired to found his business by his desire to spend more of his scarce time with his fledgling family. “For us,” he said, “this is our way of glorifying God by honoring that gift of time.”
The Proxi team, representing Wheaton College, came flush from their victory at the campus Shark Tank competition on March 17. Freshman Kelen Caldwell spoke for the team, calling it an “online, community-based mar­ketplace, initially by Wheaton students and for Wheaton stu­dents, to connect students with needs to those with resources.”
Three of the members met during Passage at Honey­rock, quickly recognized cam­pus needs and brainstormed viable business solutions.
Caldwell said, “We were talk­ing about how there are so many needs on campus. We had seen things like the forum wall and our Facebook page where people would list things that they’re sell­ing, but it was all very disorga­nized, so our goal behind Proxi is to provide an organized plat­form for all this information.”
Unfortunately for the team of freshmen, what was enough to trump Wheaton’s other busi­ness plans at Shark Tank did not win over the judges in the midst of other super-developed propo­sitions like Michael Martin’s, the co-founder of RapidSOS from Harvard Business School.
Martin handled the business and marketing for a team of 17, mostly comprised of app devel­opers who already churned out a number of impressive apps, including a geo-localized com­munication app that would send emergency texts to all cell phone owners in a designated loca­tion, an anti-terrorism app that resulted from a joint effort with the Department of Homeland Security in New York, and an automotive crash app that mea­sures G-force, contacts 911 upon impact, and can even foresee car crashes using predictive analytics.
The app that Martin present­ed on Saturday was a one-push button system for smartphones that transmits phone data to 911 instantaneously, circum­venting a sometimes fatally ar­chaic, audio-only series of steps.
Martin told the Record be­fore he took first place, “If you call 911, you go through a 1960s copper wire. All they get is voice. If someone’s shooting at you or you’re having a heart at­tack, you’re supposed to have this conversation where you ex­plain exactly where your loca­tion is and what’s occurring.”
When the judges announced that RapidSOS would win the $20,000 and move on to the finals, Martin said that he felt “incred­ibly honored” for the prize and the opportunities that lay ahead.
Daniel Yu, the representative from Reliefwatch who took second place and also moved on to Sili­con Valley, acknowledged the op­posing teams’ effort and ingenuity.
“There was a wide array of products and solutions address­ing problems across the social spectrum. Sitting there, I had no clue about how it was go­ing to pan out, but obviously I’m honored to be a part of it.”
Freshman Connor Jenkins spoke to the Record after the win­ners were announced, undefeated. “We created this without even the thought of having this mon­ey,” he said, “and right now with our $4,000 from Shark Tank, we plan on prototyping our process.”
According to Jenkins, they had investors lined up who were will­ing to take a chance on the startup.
Additionally, those look­ing forward to the official Proxi app will have to wait no longer than the fall of 2015.

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Elevate competition

Elevate competition

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