Three North Oconee High School students couldn’t find anything on the market to clean their school’s Chromebook keyboards. So they started tinkering.
The result is LitPad, a flexible silicone mat that uses ultraviolet light to sanitize keyboards. The idea from Michelle Li, TJ Lu and Barnabas Li won them the $1,000 first prize at the UGA Quick Pitch contest on Sept. 8 at the UGA Innovation Hub.
“Keyboards are 20,000 times dirtier than a public toilet seat,” Michelle Li told the Quick Pitch judges. “We wanted to develop something that could clean them without chemicals that could damage the keyboard or leave a sticky residue.”
The 90-second pitch contest, sponsored by the UGA Innovation District and the UGA Entrepreneurship Program, invited entrepreneurs to share a broad outline of their business ideas for the chance to win $1,000 in startup capital. It was open to UGA students, faculty, staff and community members.
Nine teams pitched to the panel of judges, who included Garrett Williams, managing partner of the student-run UGA Kickstart Fund, and two UGA entrepreneur mentors — Ravi Sinha, an engineer and executive with Hewlett Packard and several startups, and Havalyn Hensley, who spent two decades overseeing IT operations at Coca-Cola Enterprises.
“We were impressed with the variety and motivation of the applicants in this round,” said Tim Martin, the contest organizer and associate director of the Startup Program for the UGA Innovation Gateway. “Quick Pitch is one of our favorite events and is specifically targeted to discover innovators by introducing them to the Innovation District and our comprehensive ecosystem of support.”
The judges also recognized first runner-up Erin Parks, a Full-Time MBA student in her second year at the Terry College of Business. Parks’ startup idea, dubbed Eat By, was inspired by her struggle to use the fresh produce in her refrigerator before it spoiled. Eat By would help shoppers create an inventory of the perishables in their refrigerator and send alerts and recipes from the app before their produce goes bad.
“If you had half a pound of spinach in your fridge, Eat By would send you an alert on its last day of freshness and a recipe that includes the amount of spinach you have left,” she told the judges. “This app would help consumers save money and reduce food waste.”
Parks imagines the app would create opportunities for partnerships with grocery chains that place a premium on consumer grocery data.
Other competitors in the fall Quick Pitch included: