A Cloud Solution for Resumes Takes the Top Prize at UTD’s Annual Big Idea Competition – dallasinnovates.com

From affordable and applicable STEM products for everyday life to a dating app that equips user with a wingman and encourages in-person interactions, UTD students presented a variety of startup ideas during Tuesday’s Big Idea Competition.

The University of Texas at Dallas’ Big Idea Competition, held by the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE), gives students the opportunity to develop and pitch their most innovative business ideas. Launched in 2007, the BIC has quickly become one of North Texas’s largest university startup competitions. 

The BIC is one of a variety of programs and events that the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) offers for students, faculty, alumni and the community. Last year’s competition had over 250 applicants willing to pitch—one in three were women—and $115,000 given away to winning startup pitches. Over 1,200 people attended the 2018 Big Idea Competition. 

Last years BIC winner, Brian Hoang, came back this year to show how far he has come since the competition. Hoang, CEO and co-founder of SurviVR, has raised over $100,000 in funding and has been awarded the 2018 Texas Business Hall of Fame scholarship. 

IDA is a platform for female entrepreneurs to connect to mentors, investors, and resources digitally. This increases the accessibility female founders have and makes the journey of growing or launching a business more direct and easier. [Photo: Courtesy UTD]

The “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition brings undergrad and graduate students together to pitch to a panel of esteemed judges for an opportunity to win cash and scholarship awards. This year, six student teams were selected to participate:

  • OhmMaker: A STEM education startup inspiring middle and high school students with engineering project kits that are applicable to everyday lives.
  • IDA: A platform to help female entrepreneurs achieve their business goals that uses AI for personalized insights and consistent progress.
  • Comely: A dating/social hybrid designed for people who believe in-person is the best way to gauge chemistry.
  • CodAR: An augmented reality platform for learning and evaluating technical skills.
  • ResumePuppy: A cloud solution that ensures resumes not only look good, but also move past an initial screening.
  • Access My Research: A nonprofit social platform connecting one’s research with the world.


Ohm Maker is a STEM education startup that creates engineering project kits to inspire students to pursue careers in STEM. [Photo: Courtesy UTD]

The six teams presented their companies in front of a panel of esteemed judges, which included Shiza Shahid, CEO and co-founder of the Malala Fund with Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai. 

“I would hope to offer students who are presenting any insight that helps them navigate the bad parts of it a little better—the stress, the anxiety,” Shahid told Dallas Innovates before the competition. She encouraged each student to “fail upwards.”

Shahid, while talking about companies formed by a homogenous group of people, spoke about the importance of UTD’s diverse campus.

“I really admire the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that exists here. This is such a diverse campus,” she said. “People coming here are really looking to master a skill.” 

The other judges were Dayakar Puskoor, founder and managing partner at Naya Ventures; Samantha Colletti, SVP at Silicon Valley Bank; Eric Ho, director of strategic initiatives at Capital One Financial Services; and Chase Murphy, partner in the tax practice of Baker Tilly. The judges were responsible for determining the awards, which also included the Entrepreneurship Awards and UTDesign Startup Challenge award. 

Here’s who won.

Student Pitch Competition Awards

  • Grand Prize of $25,000 awarded to ResumePuppy
  • Second Prize of $10,000 to OhmMaker
  • Third Prize of $5,000 to Access My Research


Entrepreneurship Awards

  • Innovate(her): $5,000 to Leg Up Legal
  • Biggest Social Impact: $5,000 to Rakkasan Tea Company
  • Biggest Idea: $5,000 to Access My Research


UTDesign Startup Awards

  • $15,000 to Beauty Tech
  • $20,000 to OhmMaker
  • $20,000 to Fluid impluse


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R E A D   N E X T

  • eBay already uses machine learning, but wanted to grow its community and future technologists by working with universities. More than 40 students from four schools are participating in the machine learning competition.

  • The Princeton Review’s 14th annual survey named UTD 13th and TCU 15th. Each North Texas university houses an institute for entrepreneurship studies within the business school.

  • In this weekly roundup of leadership and executive moves by companies in North Texas, you’ll also find news from Medecision, Magna5, the Panther Island project, Frost Bank, RAVE Restaurant Group, HollyFrontier, and Gateway First Bank.

  • The SoGal Foundation’s Global Pitch Competition is coming to Dallas for one of its 25-city regional rounds. The event, held Nov. 20 at Capital Factory, will connect diverse founders with investors.