The Innovation Institute kicked off its first ever 24-hour SmashMash on November 14th here on Pitt’s campus. The event brought together approximately 65 students from a diverse array of fields, ranging from computer science to biomedical engineering. Despite their different backgrounds, these participants all convened for a common purpose—to create a product that would transform the lives of those in the communities around them.
One of the unique aspects of this SmashMash was that a formal background in entrepreneurship or product design was not needed! However, these students were not thrown in head-first into the development and pitch process without any guidance. Each team was able to receive some mentorship from our great coaches.
Each team was assigned a coach who essentially gave them a crash course on how to best develop and present their ideas later in the competition. The coaches were:
- Joel Reed— VP of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives of C-Leveled and past President of Allpoint Systems
- Stephen Reed—Marketing Consultant for Walking Thumbs, past Customer Success Consultant for NetBeez, and formerly with StatEasy.
- Chip Hanlon—Entrepreneur in Residence at the Innovation Institute, past President and CEO of Coventina Healthcare Enterprises, and formerly VP of Sales and Strategic Alliances for BodyMedia
- Greg Coticchia—Entrepreneur in Residence at the Innovation Institute, Director of Pitt’s new student acceleratoir, formerly CEO and Founder of Entra among other executive positions at startups
One of the best aspects of this coach lineup, aside from their stellar collection of achievements, is that they are all Pitt alums!
In addition to these coaches, we had a great panel of judges who selflessly donated their time and energy into helping Pitt students realise their entrepreneurship potential!
The coaches were Sue Cohen (Professor at Katz Business School at Pitt), David Ruppersberger (Director of the Joint Economic Development Initiative between Pitt and CMU), and Lorenzo Soletti (Entrepreneur in Residence at the Innovation Institute and co-founder of Neografft).
At the end of the event on Saturday, after working relentlessly on their projects, three teams were awarded the honor of placing at our first annual SmashMash! The teams and team members were:
- FIRST PLACE: myHealth created by Ritwik Gupta, Harsh Agarwal, Akhil Patel, Andrew Liu, and Anoop Reddi
- SECOND PLACE: Metal Sense created by Ashok Chandrasekaran, Nick Nuar, Stephen House, Emma Casehart and Madhav Sachar
- THIRD PLACE: Boost created by Zach Shefska
After the event, Harsh Agarwal and Ritwik Gupta of myHealth talked to us at the Innovation Institute about their experience and idea.
Agarwal described myHealth as a triage system app for Student Health Services of universities nationwide. This system would ideally allow students to access SHS at their fingertips—quite literally.
One of the main aspects of their presentation that the judge loved was the fact that they were able to build a prototype in less than 24 hours. Gupta said that it took him about six hours to build both the prototype and website.
They both shared their enthusiasm for the event while recounting their experiences at SmashMash. Gupta liked how the event wasn’t physically restricting and how that opened them up to the opportunity of doing more direct market research and interacting with SHS. Agarwal cited how he got to meet new people who helped their project expand: “a great perk!”
Overall, this event was a great success and our Innovation Institute team is excited for the great events that we will be hosting throughout this upcoming semester! Stay tuned for more information about upcoming events and reviews of our past events!