On February 24th, 10 Anderson students and 15 software developers came together for one purpose; launch an idea or solve a business problem over the period of a weekend. This year, the Entrepreneur Association at UCLA Anderson hosted its first Developer’s Contest. While many Anderson students have innovate ideas, they may lack the resources or technical skills in order to execute their business ideas. The purpose of the EA Developer’s Contest is to connect business-minded entrepreneurs with tech savvy software developers and to launch a business idea over a weekend. The event was sponsored by Yahoo!, Start Engine, and VMWare, and with their support we were able to attract talented software developers with $1500 in cash prizes.
While there are other events with a similar purpose such as 3 Day Startup and Startup Weekend, the EA Developer’s Contest takes a different approach. The EA Developer’s Contest borrows from concepts learned in our MBA program and combines both brainstorming and execution in a novel approach. One business idea or problem is selected by group of software developers and software developers compete for cash prizes by working to execute the best prototype.
First, UCLA Anderson students submit business ideas or problems that they are trying to solve with a software-based solution to a panel of peers. The Top 10 ideas were chosen from the list of ideas and the students that submitted them were selected to give a 1-minute pitch of their business idea or problem to a group of software developers and engineers. The business ideas that Anderson students submitted were amazing, and ranged from a social networking platform for varsity athletes to a platform that allows you to find used items within a certain geographical location, and a platform for sharing and collaborating on business models.
Sachin Doshi('12) pitches his business idea for a platform to diagnose car problems
On Friday, February 24th, the 10 selected Anderson Students gave the 1-minute pitch of their ideas to teams of professional and student software developers. The developers were an extremely diverse group in terms of programming experience, preferred programming languages, and industry experience. After the 15 developers heard all 10 pitches, they voted on the idea or problem that they had the most interest in solving over the weekend.
While the voting was close, Andy Yin’s (‘13) idea for an equitable bill splitting application was selected to be developed over the weekend. Andy envisioned a bill splitter that would be seamless, easy to use for both consumers and merchants, and reduce the complexity of splitting bills at restaurants. Developer teams then asked Andy questions about the problems and pain points with current bill splitting applications and insights into ways of solving this problem before preparing for a weekend of coding. Before breaking for the weekend, George Abe, a Professor at UCLA Anderson and former VC Partner at Palomar Ventures gave a short presentation and espoused the importance of focusing on delivering a MVP, or Minimum Viable Product.
Judges Ilya Pozin and John Shiple
The developer teams spent the weekend working hard on their ideas and met on Sunday evening to demo their Bill Splitter Applications. We were fortunate to have John Shiple(www.freelanceCTO.com) and Ilya Pozin(www.ciplex.com) as our judges. Both are successful entrepreneurs that brought their knowledge and experience starting companies to evaluate the developers’ prototypes.
Team "The Wieners"
Three teams followed through with the execution of their ideas and we wowed with multiple interpretations of a Bill Splitter application. Team Toduro, came up with an innovative way for a group of people at dinner to separately indicate their meal items that are synchronized in a central database, while Team Noname executed a iPhone app that could scan both receipts and qr codes to record and split up bills, and The Wieners developed an Android app that allows users to scan receipts and split up items than can then be tracked back to individual users via a centralized database and reviewed via a web based application at a later date.
The judging was extremely difficult, but in the end it was decided that Mikhail Yurasov, the sole member of Team Noname, had solved the challenges with equitably splitting bills and successfully executed an easy to use Bill Splitter. Andy and Mikhail now have to opportunity to take what just started as an idea for a bill splitter and execute on bringing it to market. We’d like to congratulate both Andy Lin and Mikhail Yurasov on their successes and would like to thank all the Anderson students, developers, and judges, and sponsors that made this event a success.
We've received a lot of support both from the Anderson community and local entrepreneurs, and plan on institutionalizing this event to make it a recurring event here at Anderson and find ways help more students launch ideas.
John Diep of Start Engine, Ilya Pozin, Andy Yin ('13), Mikhail Yurasov, and John Shiple