WINSTON-SALEM, NC – A medication monitoring and alert system earned the Grand Prize in the Wake Forest University School of Business 2013 Retail Innovation Challenge. The N2 Medical Solutions team, Scott Coldagelli, Andy Bowline and Tripp Evans of the WFU School of Business Full-time MBA program, took home $25,000 for its idea.
The N2 Medical Solutions system monitors whether people take their medications, alerting patient and care providers, such as a family member or a doctor, if too much or too little is taken. Additionally, CVS Caremark surprised the winners with a bonus prize — a trip to company headquarters for a meeting with company executives.
“This will fund our prototypes and finalize them,” Andy Bowline (MBA ’14) said. “Our goal was to pique CVS Caremark CEO Larry Merlo’s interest and maybe get a business card, so to be on our way to CVS headquarters,” he paused. “That is more powerful than the $25,000,” Scott Coldagelli (MBA ’14) finished.
“We plan to reinvest our winnings in our company,” said Tripp Evans (MBA ‘14) “This money will get us closer to being trial-ready and to develop the partnerships we need.”
Purdue University students placed second with its DSDNet team proposal to create a cloud-based system for independent product distributors to more efficiently serve small retailers, winning a $10,000 prize. Their idea would bring some of the efficiencies large retailers and distributors enjoy to smaller businesses.
Appalachian State University students, Team Hatchlings, finished third and received $5,000 for the idea to create easy gardening systems with seeds inside eggshells. The seeds would germinate inside the shells, creating a self-contained planting system.
The $1,000 Fan Favorite Award went to Vanderbilt for receiving the most votes during the competition for their Retail Truck team on retailinnovationchallenge.com.
“Once again the students have demonstrated how truly innovative they can be,” Roger Beahm, executive director of the WFU School of Business Center for Retail Innovation and professor of marketing said. “We had an outstanding group of schools with some very provocative ideas. A number of them are certainly going to be successful. We want to congratulate everyone who participated and we look forward to hosting this event again next year.”
A total of 21 student teams from Wake Forest University and top universities around the country traveled to Winston-Salem to pitch their innovative ideas to impact the future of the retail industry. The awards were announced during a ceremony Nov. 15 in Wake Forest’s Deacon Tower at BB&T Field.
For 13 years, Wake Forest hosted The Elevator Competition, allowing students to test their skills at making the perfect elevator pitch to industry executives about their unique business models. Last year, Wake Forest’s Center for Retail Innovation came forward to challenge students to come up with ideas that could help the retail community create, deliver and capture value.
Here’s how the Retail Innovation Challenge worked. Each team delivered two separate two-minute pitches during the event in Wake Forest’s Deacon Tower at BB&T Field. The premise: teams have bumped into an influential executive at a sporting event and have two minutes to impress him or her with their business pitch.
The five teams with the best innovative ideas, chosen by a panel of business leaders, and marketing executives were invited to the Wake Forest School of Business, Farrell Hall, which served as the boardroom for a 30-minute formal presentation. The finalists were Appalachian State University, Purdue University, the University of Pennsylvania and two teams from Wake Forest University, one from the Full-time MBA program in Winston-Salem and the second from the Working Professional MBA program in Charlotte. The top three teams won the cash prizes.
“It’s been a real group effort from the co-chairs to the volunteers. We all worked really hard to make this possible.” Blake Armstrong, MBA (‘14), one of the three student co-chairs for the event. “Meeting the teams has been wonderful. We have been impressed with not only their ideas but also their personalities and professionalism. It’s been rewarding to give them a platform to express their innovative ideas.”
In addition to the competition, participants also learned how CVS Caremark is preparing for the wave of Baby Boomers turning 65 and older who generally have more 2-3 times more prescriptions than Gen X, Gen Y and the Millennials during a keynote from the company’s President and CEO Larry Merlo.
On the second day of the competition, Rob Price, CVS Caremark’s chief marketing officer, moderated a panel discussion on the changes retailers will face when it comes to a more senior population. Jeff Williamson, an expert on aging from the Wake Forest Baptist Health; Jill Puleri, vice president, Global Industry Leader for Retail for IBM Global Business Services and Dave Archer, director of consumer and market knowledge at Procter & Gamble offered insights about developing community and considering that seniors have different interests and abilities, especially when it comes to technology.
Sponsors of the 2013 Wake Forest Retail Innovation Challenge include: CVS Caremark, RockTenn, The Fresh Market, Kangaroo Express, Truliant Federal Credit Union, Bridgetree, Chick-fil-A, The WFU Angell Center for Entrepreneurship and the Wake Forest University School of Business Center for Retail Innovation.
The event is organized and produced by Wake Forest School of Business student volunteers led by co-chairs Blake Armstrong (MBA ’14), Alex Alleman (MBA ’14) and Naomi Freeman (MBA ’14). The faculty advisors are Roger Beahm, executive director of the WFU Center for Retail Innovation and Stan Mandel, Professor of practice at the School and director of the WFU Angell Center for Entrepreneurship.
Videos, blogs and a photo gallery of the event may be found on retailinnovationchallenge.com.