NORMAL — Joi Strickland wants to help more students succeed. Thanks to an event at Illinois State University, she receives her $10,000 to help support it.
Strickland is a 2022 Startup Showcase winner at Illinois State University and a sophomore majoring in International Business and Accounting. She also keeps busy with other activities such as student associations.
That rush led her to ‘Studenttivity’, an app suite aimed at helping students manage their time and energy and develop productive habits. She presented the app to a panel of business people in the area at a showcase on Friday.
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“We’re not just students. We work, we volunteer, we do a lot,” she told the panel.
Strickland wants to work with colleges and universities that want their students to use the app to reduce stress and ideally improve their memory.
The annual Startup Showcase is hosted by the George R. and Martha Means Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, part of the College of Business. Modeled after the TV show Shark Tank. More than 25 students entered the competition and 10 finalists gave presentations on Friday to her panel of four businessmen with ties to the ISU.
Second place went to Nya Gibbs of Divine Passion Art, which makes satin-lined hoodies that allow the wearer to express themselves and protect their hair.
Zach Camacho’s Axyes, an app that provides users with accessibility information about businesses and events, takes third place.
Gibbs will receive $6,000, Camacho $4,000, and the other finalists $500.
This is the first year the event has been able to offer five-figure first-place prizes, said Terry Rowe, assistant professor of management and quantitative methods. The funds will be used for the student’s business expenses, not for prize money.
“We pay the bills to grow their business,” says Lowe.
Past winners include Open Source Classroom, which helps teachers develop professional uses for 3D printing and other emerging technologies, and BizzBaits, a bass fishing lure company. Last year’s winner was her Curlave, launched by Ashley Garrett, for selling curly hair extensions for black women.
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One of this year’s judges, Mike Shannon, was part of the team that won Packback in 2011, helping high school and college students practice writing. As someone who works in the education field, he used the question-and-answer portion on Friday to give Strickland a feel for the kinds of challenges she could face.
This year’s other finalist ideas include Destini Anderson’s “Any Bars” app, which helps members of the military check if cell service is available, and was inspired by Leo Krueger’s time zone. Mezcla Mix/Bocado Bars were included.
This year’s entries tended toward technology businesses such as apps, along with some consumable entries, Lowe said. Students were admitted from faculties across the university.
“It is our goal to recognize that student entrepreneurs are in every field academically,” he said.
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In addition to students, the event will also present two entrepreneurial awards. The Illinois State University Economic Impact Entrepreneur of the Year Award is given to local business owners and the Illinois State University Entrepreneur of the Year Award is given to college graduates.
This year’s business winners were Tim and Vicky Tilton, owners of the Monroe Center in Bloomington. The building houses the Fox & Hounds Day Spa and other commercial spaces. We are also actively involved in local charitable activities.
The alumni award went to Mike Kasaba, an investor and former CEO of Artisan Vehicles, an electric mining vehicle company. Kasaba said he graduated from the ISU in 1988. Prior to Artisan, he founded Quiet Energy, an alternative energy utility company.
Lowe said it’s nice to have students in the evenings to meet members of the community as well.
“We have people from all these communities here, and we want them to support and recognize these students,” Lowe said.
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Contact Connor Wood at (309) 820-3240. Follow Connor on Twitter: @connorkwood