When Matthew Byron combined his passion for mountain biking with his day job as a mechanical designer, he devised an innovation that seeks to make mountain bike rides more comfortable by customizing the pistons to the rider’s weight.
Byron’s product gained serious traction Feb. 25, as he won the $2,000 first-place prize and the $500 crowd favorite honor at the 2020 innovateUNG Pitch Challenge. The University of North Georgia (UNG) junior pursuing an interdisciplinary studies degree will move on to the Georgia InVenture Prize competition set for April 1-2 at GPB in Atlanta. There, he will compete against students from other public Georgia universities and colleges.
The student from Lilburn, Georgia, who takes classes around his full-time work schedule, brought a product model for the three judges to see. Byron finished his presentation with a short bike jump off the stage to the back of the UNG Dining Hall Banquet Room.
Gina Urbina Sanchez, a senior from Atlanta pursuing a management degree, took second place among the four teams of UNG students who took part in the startup contest, earning a $1,500 prize. Her product, “On Me,” is a fashionable solution that seeks to hold dresses, ties, scarves and other clothing items in place and avoid wardrobe malfunctions. Urbina Sanchez, who is originally from Colombia, appreciated the feedback and compliments she received from the judges.
Gina Urbina Sanchez finished second in innovateUNG with her product that is a fashionable solution that seeks to hold dresses, ties, scarves and other clothing items in place and avoid wardrobe malfunctions.
“The ability to be able to share it with people who will see a value in it and maybe help me expand my idea was an amazing experience,” she said.
“The student entrepreneurs did a great job. It’s a great feeling to see the advancement they’ve made in preparation for this event,” Boling said. “Each of them was spot-on with what they were doing, and they answered questions like pros. The judges provided high-value feedback to the contestants that will enable them to make their innovations even more valuable to the markets they are serving”
Dr. Mariangela Vecchiarini-Piazza, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at UNG, echoed those sentiments.
“The innovateUNG Pitch Challenge displayed how creativity, teamwork and dedication can contribute toward creating something incredible,” Vecchiarini-Piazza said. “All contestants did an excellent job, and each idea presented a clear solution to an issue in our world today.”
She and Boling expressed gratitude for all the participants and attendees.
“I appreciate the UNG students, faculty and staff who supported the event and the attendees who cheered on the contestants,” Boling said. “The result was an outstanding event for all.”
The other participants in the contest were:
- Driven to Style
- Team member: Jenna Libman
- Idea: A unique, fully online women’s and juniors’ secondhand clothing business
- G-3 Takeout
- Team members: Eric Ferguson, Jordan Mallak, Wrafi Rucker
- Idea: A local food delivery service that not only delivers food but also combats drunk driving
Judges for the competition were:
- Chris Colson:He is the program director of innovation in the retail payments office of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Colson has been granted two patents, with seven more pending. He teaches corporate entrepreneurship at UNG.
- Mitchelle Johnson:She is a retired financial executive who was one of the first women in the C-suite of a major Georgia corporation when she served as the chief financial officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia.
- Kristle Pressley:She is the CEO and co-founder of Geaux Bikes. Her first entrepreneurial endeavor was LainieBugs Children’s Boutique, a high-end children’s clothing store she founded in 2015.