Everewear and Buzz Buddy win prizes during the JagStart competition


After hours of hard work, the students who participated in the JagStart competition finally came together and pitched their ideas to a panel of judges.

JagStart is an annual workshop series and pitch competition that helps IUPUI students bring their innovations to life, according to Chris Rogers, a faculty fellow in the Institute for Engaged Learning, and Barb Cutillo, co-director of JagStart.

“Undergraduate and graduate students will generate an initial idea, identify a target market, develop a business model, and prepare a pitch to communicate that idea to potential investors or other interested groups,” Rogers and Cutillo said in a statement.

One of the students who participated this year was Anna Dorris, a finance major, who won the grand prize for Everewear. According to Dorris, Everewear brings a curated shopping experience to the secondhand clothing marketplace.

For Dorris, this was a jumping-off point for her idea. Without JagStart, she believes she would still be working on an idea rather than solving a problem. She plans to continue to work on Everewear throughout college and after graduation and found that JagStart connected her to people who helped her build her idea.

“My idea was supported by the professors running JagStart and also the mentor I was paired with,” Dorris said. “A lot of the traction I am getting for my idea is the result of my mentor, Professor Kim Saxton, advising me and networking me with the right people.”

Dorris also found that JagStart taught her that innovation “is about solving problems and making things that already exist better.” She discovered a problem and found a way to solve it.

“Through this process, I was able to discover my problem, which is that secondhand shopping is time consuming, overwhelming, and exhausting. After defining the problem I wanted to solve, I was really able to start building a business idea,” Dorris said.

Dorris joined JagStart because she felt “lost” and wanted guidance after her light bulb moment. She found the competition through her professors who encouraged her to join after she sought advice for her idea. Now, she recommends JagStart to every student.

“Any type of student should join JagStart,” Dorris said. “I would especially recommend anyone who has a problem they are wanting to solve to join JagStart.”

Although working alone on the project was difficult at times, and she was nervous about pitching, Dorris found the process of JagStart fun and exciting. Her confidence toward pitching has grown, and she found being around creative people to be exciting.

“My favorite part about JagStart was being surrounded by creative minds,” Dorris said. “After sharing my idea and what problem I was trying to solve, it was super fun to collaborate and come up with different ways to approach it.”

The audience of the JagStart competition also got to have their vote on the ideas presented. The winner for them? The team who worked on Buzz Buddy.

Gabriela Jones, Carter Mettler, Benjamin Wolfe, and Nicholas Wright were the grand prize and audience choice winner for their idea, Buzz Buddy. According to Wright, a management major, Buzz Buddy is Gas Buddy, but for alcohol.

“Customers input the prices into the app when they visit their local store and verify prices match or input new data. They can also see if a shop carries a certain brand name product they desire, not just look at cost,” Wright said.

The map on the app will show color-coordinated dots depending on prices when a product is searched, and consumers are also rewarded for using the app. Owners of stores can also utilize the app.

“Shop owners can use the data generated to manage competition, advertise to consumers, and use data when ordering new products or quantifying staple adult beverages,” Wright said.

Jones, a supply chain management major, found that JagStart facilitates innovation through encouraging students to think outside the box and look at things from a new angle.

“We look at overpriced alcohol as a problem, as most college seniors are financially unstable, but very stressed and should be able to find the lowest prices on their favorite way to unwind,” Jones said.

The team found out about JagStart through one of their classes and enjoyed working on the project as a team.

“We all got along so well together, it did not feel like hard work at all! We really only had to communicate effectively, visualize an end goal as a team, and meet the objectives set by our wonderful professor,” Jones said.

Besides working together, Mettler, a supply chain management major, also talked about how the group worked on the project about six hours every week the last half of the semester.

“Yet our idea came together so easily it was simply about making our pitch stand out the last week! The process was mostly meeting deadlines, but the actual competition was great to see everyone from our class improve upon their pitches. I already have a few businesses, and this was great practice,” Mettler said.

For their pitch, Jones said she found it fun to help the others in her team to put on a show for the pitch. According to Jones, they decided to tell a story during their pitch to draw the audience in, make them laugh, and to educate them about the idea.

The team’s favorite part of the competition was the creation and execution of the pitch, but they also found it to be the most educational part.

“This experience will help Carter and I especially, as we already run businesses of our own. If we ever decide to get on Shark Tank with a new venture or simply pitch an idea to a group of investors in our area, this showed us how,” Jones said. “Getting feedback from some of my favorite professors and people outside of the Kelley School made it that much more helpful.”

Along with the feedback from professors, the support they received was extensive. Their friends, family, and coworkers provided support through voting.

Wolfe, a management and supply chain management major, appreciated that their professor supported their idea from the start, helped them through the process, and encouraged them to work outside of class. Jones found that her cousin, who owns a bar, loved and supported their idea.

Like Dorris, Jones also recommended that every student should participate in JagStart so they can be problem solvers and share ideas.

“This competition allows all students to hear feedback from potential investors about their idea and how effective their pitch was,” Jones said. “It would be great to see how people without a business background structure the pitch and what ideas they have that can shake up an industry and revolutionize a way of doing something!”

More information about JagStart can be found on the Opportunities section on the Institute for Engaged Learning website.