Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Software-engineering group wins $35000 for business idea - The Auburn Plainsman

Software-engineering group wins $35000 for business idea - The Auburn Plainsman


Software-engineering group wins $35000 for business idea - The Auburn Plainsman

Posted: 15 Apr 2019 06:38 AM PDT

A student-led software development team recently won $35,000 at the annual Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition put on by the Harbert College of Business.

Flashtract Inc. was co-founded by Ben Conry and Blair Chenault. The company offers a cloud-based software that streamlines and automates the construction-payment process.

Conry, senior in civil engineering, said the current payment system used by many in the construction industry is outdated. When Chenault, 2018 graduate in mechanical engineering, interned with a bank's online division, he saw ways to simplify the process.

"(Chenault) noticed that a lot of construction companies weren't doing a lot of online banking," Conry said. "So he started looking into it and realized that the payment process in the construction industry was still being largely done over paper checks, and it was a paper-bound process."

Often times, several companies work together on one construction project, he said. This includes subcontractors, general contractors and the project owners.

"Subcontractors have to submit their invoices for the work they've completed. … Those invoices have to be approved up an approval-chain," Conry said. "Once those invoices are approved, our software facilitates the payment for those invoices."  

In 2018, Flashtract was eliminated from Tiger Cage in the semi-final. Chenault said there has been a drastic change since the company started last year.

"It's astronomically different. It looks like a professional, well put-together website," he said. "It's super simple, boiled down to only what you need and really gets the point across quickly without cluttering up with too much unneeded information."

The team won three prizes at this year's Tiger Cage competition, totaling $35,000. The first prize of $25,000 was strictly based on the presentation of the teams' ideas.

"We also won a $5,000 check for the people's choice award," he added. "The last check was a grant from the Alabama Capital Network for the most promising start-up that they saw in the competition."

Aside from winning the Tiger Cage competition, Flashtract also won $50,000 at the Auburn Regional Alabama Launchpad competition.

"A lot of the judges told us that they saw a lot of value in our software and saw how it could make such a big impact on this Auburn area and bringing jobs to this area," Conry said.

Moving forward, Chenault hopes Flashtract can provide contractors a more efficient way of generating cashflow without having to wait a prolonged period of time.

"There's report after report that shows contractors getting paid 100 days after they've completed their work," he said. "We would love to see that number drive down closer to the average of other industries."  

Conry agreed, and said it is time for the construction industry to modernize its payment systems.

"I just imagine our software being a tool that would be used every day by contractors," he said. "Something that will allow them to finish on budget and on time and let them go home at the end of the day and get back to their families."

Area Innovation Award winners announced during IDEA Week - South Bend Tribune

Posted: 15 Apr 2019 08:30 AM PDT

SOUTH BEND — Several local companies and individuals were honored with Innovation Awards during last week's IDEA Week in the South Bend-Elkhart area.

Tracy Graham, founder and managing principal of Graham Allen Partners, a South Bend-based private equity firm that specializes in technology and technology-enabled companies, won Entrepreneur of the Year, the University of Notre Dame's IDEA Center announced in a news release.

Susan Ford, a director at Graham Allen Partners and president of SEMMA Health, won Female Entrepreneur of the Year.

IDEA Week 2019 honored local entrepreneurs, inventors and innovative institutions with the inaugural IDEA Week Innovation Awards at a ceremony April 8 at the Palais Royale in downtown South Bend.

Mitchell Kokko, a six-time entrepreneur and an associate on the Pit Road Fund at the IDEA Center Notre Dame, won Young Entrepreneur of the Year. The Pit Road Fund provides seed funding for faculty, student, alumni and community startups.

Ray Parisi and Bob Metzger, both engineers at Warsaw-based Zimmer Biomet, shared Inventor of the Year honors. They also shared the South Bend-Elkhart Top Inventor award, with seven patents each. Other top inventors honored were Eugene A. Dylewski II with four patents and Kevin V. Keigley with three.

Notre Dame was the top South Bend-Elkhart company for patents issued in 2018 with 22, followed by Lippert Components with eight, L.O.F. with five, Truck Accessories Group with four, ABI Attachments and Elkhart Brass Manufacturing Co. with three each, and APCI, ASA Electronics, Carved, Emnet, KMC Controls, MORryde International, Shield Restraint Systems and TITAN with two each.

Google seeks 'bold' economic ideas from Iowa not-for-profits, with $1 million carrot - The Gazette

Posted: 15 Apr 2019 06:53 PM PDT

Google will give away $1 million to Iowa groups with 'bold ideas' - Des Moines Register

Posted: 15 Apr 2019 07:55 AM PDT

CLOSE

At Las Vegas gadget show CES, Google is showcasing new features of its voice-enabled digital assistant including a language translator. (Jan 9) AP

Google plans to give away $1 million to Iowa nonprofits through a competitive grant process, the company announced Monday at the Des Moines Public Library. 

Google.org rolled out its Impact Challenge Iowa, its first such program in Iowa. Nonprofits can submit proposals for "bold ideas to grow economic opportunity in their local communities." Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst both attended the announcement event.

"Our hope with the Google.org Impact Challenge Iowa is to help Iowa nonprofits bring their great ideas to life," said Dan Harbeke, head of public policy and external affairs at Google's data center in Council Bluffs. "Iowa is an incredibly diverse state, with a wide variety of issues that impact different communities and a huge amount of local talent seeking to solve unique challenges."

Google officials and a panel of local judges will review applications and award five winners $175,000 in grant funding. After those winners are announced, Iowans can vote on which project they believe will have the greatest economic impact. The winner of that vote will receive an additional $125,000.

Nonprofits can apply online at g.co/iowachallenge. The deadline for applications is May 17.

Google's parent company Alphabet earned $136.8 billion in fiscal year 2018, according to the company's financial disclosures. 

More: Will Iowa's giant data centers spur growth in technology jobs here?

More: Why data centers love coming to Iowa

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