The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI students win money in IdeaStorm contest

Eleven UI students won prize money for business pitches in a contest sponsored by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.
Ava Neumaier
Carter Fitzgerald, a winner of the Spring IdeaStorm competition, poses for a portrait in front of the laundry that he seeks to make more efficient, on Monday, March 13, 2024. Fitzgerald is a first-year Finance student at the University of Iowa, and won $500 in February for his proposal to use laundry data to create a laundry tracking app.

Nearly a dozen University of Iowa students walked away with cash after participating in this year’s IdeaStorm contest hosted by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

A group of 38 students gathered in the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Lab to present 90-second pitches to judges on Feb. 22 for the competition. Eleven students who participated won awards, which accumulated a total of $4,400 in prize money.

The annual IdeaStorm competition is meant to generate student solutions for a problem of their choice in a unique way, regardless of their major or desired career path. The students who won prizes were also invited to continue to develop their ideas in the JPEC Startup Incubation Lab on campus and work with professors to further their pitches.

UI first-year risk management and finance student Carter Fitzgerald won a $500 first-place prize for his pitch to make laundry run smoother for students living in the dorms and plans to use the money for any cost he may incur while working in the incubation lab.

Fitzgerald was frustrated with the disorganization students encountered while trying to do laundry and sought a way to list the most popular times of day when students use their dorm’s laundry facilities.

He said the UI could display a chart or Excel sheet in the residence halls to make students aware of heavy traffic in the laundry rooms and save them a lot of time.

“I found my niche is Monday at 12:45 p.m.,”Fitzgerald explained when he usually does laundry.

He would do so by compiling data from the new laundry system the UI implemented in January, which would reflect the number of students swiping their university ID cards at the laundry machines per day. Currently, students must use their best guess when trying to access a washer and dryer.

Fitzgerald said he could have simply sat idle and not confronted the laundry issue, but IdeaStorm gave him an opportunity to act and save time for all of his peers living on campus.

“I feel like I could have very easily just not done anything,”Fitzgerald said. “It’s a very simple solution, so I guess I asked myself, ‘Why not?’”

UI third-year sustainability science major Martha Fey won $400 in the contest for her food sensitivity app pitch. As someone who has struggled with food sensitivity themselves, Fey wanted to create an app that would allow users to scan different food items and see if that food would make them feel sick based on a sensitivity quiz they filled out.

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“I took a food sensitivity test, and it had, like, a million things listed, and I tried to implement it in my life, but then it was just not applicable, so I just ignored it,” Fey said. “But then I thought if there was a way you could link that all to an app, you could just scan a barcode of the food and see your relative sensitivity.”

In the creative concepts category, UI first-year English and creative writing and enterprise leadership major McKenzie Capito won $300 for her sci-fi/fantasy publishing house proposal.

Capito said traditional pathways for writers in the publishing field are difficult to access and wants to create a space for fiction writers to easily work through the publishing process.

“The most enjoyable part is that I could do this now, even without years of experience,” Capito said. “Maybe the point is that [publishing] needs to be served by someone who hasn’t been so ingrained in how it’s run now and can imagine something different for the industry.”

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About the Contributors
Grace Olson
Grace Olson, News Reporter
Grace Olson is a first-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications. She's a news reporter for The DI, reporting primarily on local government. She is from Denver, Colorado and worked on the pirnt publication from her high school prior to her work in college.
Ava Neumaier
Ava Neumaier, Photojournalist
Ava Neumaier is a first-year student at the University of Iowa, majoring in English & Creative Writing. She was the Editor-in-Chief of her high school yearbook in New York, and has interned for a New York Times photographer. She enjoys taking pictures of performances and student life.