Isenberg Student Entrepreneurs Thrive in Innovation Challenge

April 18, 2013

Isenberg student entrepreneurs were among the top winners in the final round of the 2013 Innovation Challenge, the UMass Amherst campus-wide business plan competition that encourages interdisciplinary student teams to transform innovations--many of them generated on campus--into viable businesses. Among the five finalist teams that vied for over $50,000 in seed money on April 17, Fetch Rewards with team member Curt Owen, an Isenberg sophomore majoring in management, won the competition's top honor of $30,000. The venture has created a mobile application "to reinvent the way in which people grocery shop." The app, notes the team, simplifies and streamlines shopping, yielding big savings in time and money for the consumer.


Two additional Isenberg students--Chris Bent '12 (Marketing) and Justin Timlin '12 (Sport Management)--and their team, Crowd Solar, won one of two 2nd place prizes of $10,000. The team has created an online platform that facilitates investment in local solar projects for community buildings. Crowd Solar and Inside Out Solar, a second team (its product is portable solar space heating units) with an Isenberg student--Dorothy Polatin '12 (Management)--each won a prize from the Cleantech Open, the nation's oldest and largest accelerator for clean technology businesses. That prize will exempt both teams from Cleantech's application fee and give them express second-round status in its annual competition.


James Theroux, Flavin Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, coached all five finalists on presentation skills for the final competitive round. Now in its 8th year, the Innovation Challenge brings increasing value to participants as a springboard to larger competitions like Cleantech and the prestigious MassChallenge. Since 2005, the Innovation Challenge has awarded more than $500,000 in privately generated in prizes to 65 student teams.