UNC Charlotte’s new PORTAL Building is living up to its billing as THE place where businesses and the university can build the next great ideas.
On July 12-13, PORTAL helped host The Money Event – an intense competition by student and professional programmers to create innovative shopping experiences using mobile phones. University City Partners was among the sponsors.
“The PORTAL Building was awesome,” declared TME co-creator and entrepreneur Aditya Khurjekar.
And, yes, the event generated at least two strong ideas!
Coupons as you shop
In a tight race, judges chose CouponQuest, created by four professional programmers, as the winning entry. “Their application identifies your shopping experience when you are in a store,” Khurjekar said. “It includes little coupons that can be unlocked as part of the experience so people can save money. It also includes information about where you are in the store, and who you are, so it is a good combination of mobile technologies and apps being used to create identified shopping experiences.”
The second-place entry, created by a team of UNC Charlotte PhD students, “was very, very close,” Khurjekar said. “Their idea was about line-busting. If you have a popular restaurant or deli, you want to be able to buy food when you want it. How can you use the mobile phone to cut in line and make a better experience for the restaurant and the diner?”
Top prize: Chance to present at Super Mobility Week event
The first-place team won the right to have two members present their idea at The Money Event that will take place in September in Las Vegas as part of Super Mobility Week – a global gathering of cellular technology pros. All the teams got to work with new technology platforms while developing their concepts.
Judging the entries were Chase Cabanillas, directory of technology architecture for Harris Teeter; Greg Kerr, chief technology officer for Inmar, a technology company that operates intelligent commerce networks; and Charlotte City Councilman David Howard. Khurjekar credits Howard’s encouragement for the decision to include Charlotte in The Money Event competitions.
Khurjekar became involved in developing the technology for mobile payments while working with Verizon Wireless. A Charlotte resident, he now consults on global-commerce strategies and operates Letstalkpayments.com with India-based partner Amit Goel.
The partners held their first Money Event on July 5-6 in Bangalore, India. They plan to hold several more at major technology hubs worldwide.
24 hours to make it work
Each Money Event is a 24-hour programming/coding/development challenge where innovators compete to create the best solution to address a particular problem. Most of the “action” is in the teaming/brainstorming/building activities that the competitors engage in. They present the results of their efforts to the audience at the end of the 24 hours. Judges determine the best entry.
Money Event participants received the following problem statement: Create a mobile shopping experience using any or all of several building blocks including beacons, digital coupons and in-app or online payment systems.
Teams had from noon Saturday to noon Sunday to develop their proof of concept, and from noon-4 Sunday to prepare 7-minute presentations.
Khurjekar said the PORTAL Building “was the best of both worlds” as a competition venue. “Every team was able to get a private space in which they could work by themselves,” he said. “Then we could bring them together into a large hall for group presentations. And there was a nice, comfortable lobby for visitors, so all in all it was a perfect space.”
Khurjekar also appreciated the strong support he received from PORTAL associate director Jim Currie, who spent the weekend at PORTAL making sure The Money Event came off smoothly. “Jim was phenomenal,” Khurjekar said. “He was a very eager and suggestive partner who was there for us to make everything happen.”
- Learn more about The Money Event – http://www.themoneyevent.com/super-challenge
- Learn more about LetsTalkPayments.com – http://letstalkpayments.com
About the PORTAL Building
The Portal Building is the newest facility in the growing Charlotte Research Institute on the UNC Charlotte Campus. The building houses the Ventureprise venture development program staff and nine companies receiving its services. Another 50,000 square feet of space awaits leases from business clients wanting to tap university labs, faculty and research focused on areas ranging from energy to optoelectronics.
- Learn more about Charlotte Research Institute – http://cri.unc.org
- Learn more about Ventureprise – http:ventureprise.org