Isenberg Student Wins Campus-Wide Innovation Challenge Business Competition
April 10, 2014
Rescue Collar, an Isenberg team led by first-year full-time MBA candidate David Waymouth, has won first-place honors in UMass Amherst's annual Innovation Challenge business plan competition. Rescue Collar emerged the winner against four other finalists at a formal presentation and awards dinner on April 7th. At the ceremony, Waymouth received a first-place prize of $25,000 and an invitation to participate with fast-track status in the vaunted MassChallenge business plan competition.
Rescue Collar aspires to create a pet tracker that improves on the wearability of tracking devices for pets and convenience for their owners. Current pet trackers, notes Waymouth, are too large to fit on half of the dogs and nearly 90% of the cats in the United States. They're also uncomfortably heavy. Slightly larger than a quarter, Waymouth's device fits comfortably on the collar of most pets. The tracker, which automatically sleeps near one's home, dramatically extends battery life. And by avoiding a microchip, the device, with its iPhone and Android apps, connects pets and their owners directly without the middle man of a local animal control department.
In December, Rescue Collar was one of four $1,500 first-place winners in the Innovation Challenge's preliminary contest, its Elevator Pitch Competition. To accelerate his proposal into the detailed, viable business plan that won the culminating Innovation Challenge contest in April, Waymouth developed a prototype with a grant from an endowment from the Robert and Sandra Glass estate. He studied sourcing, costs, and profit margins for the prototype and his business model. And he surveyed pet owners to sharpen the viability of his business model.
Waymouth and his dog PipWaymouth is especially grateful for the MassChallenge opportunity. "The fast-track into the semi-finalist round puts me in the top 300 of the competition's 2000+ applicants and gives me the opportunity to make an in-person pitch in Boston to a panel of judges," he remarks. "The top 128 teams advance to the final round, which connects you with mentors, helps you build your prototype, and guides you through the next stages of building your company. At the end, MassChallenge awards prizes of $100,000 and $50,000 to the top teams and connects you with top Boston investors. It's an amazing opportunity and I'm going to give it 100% to try to be a finalist."