Winners named in 2016 Howard Isaacson Innovation Challenge

Winners of the Howard Isaacson Innovation Challenge pose for the camera

Lynn University held its annual Howard Isaacson Innovation Challenge. This year more than 25 students and employees submitted applications to participate.

The challenge, now in its third year, was founded by the College of Business and Management and Jeremy Office, a Lynn alumnus who serves on the college's advisory board and helps fund the competition. Named after Office's grandfather, Howard Isaacson, a mentor and entrepreneur, the contest invites participants to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win resources to help develop the business.

Throughout the challenge, participants partner with entrepreneurs, executives and College of Business and Management faculty members who mentor and guide them in their journey to create viable businesses and business plans.

"The challenge is a unique and exciting initiative held by the college's entrepreneurship program," says Brian Sommer, assistant professor and competition faculty sponsor. "I've had the pleasure of working with and mentoring some of the most creative, innovative and entrepreneurial students at the university."

On May 4, after several rounds of elimination, the top five finalists presented their ideas to more than 120 spectators and three judges: Richard Pollack, CEO of Beyond ROI; Ellis J. Parker, lawyer and real estate entrepreneur; Rhys Williams, investment banker and CEO of an Angel Investment Groups, New World Angels. The top three participants received a cash prize, and first place additionally earned office space at Research Park in Boca Raton for six months, courtesy of Research Park's CEO, Andrew Duffel.

This year's winners included:

  • First place: Stephany Lopez Da Silva, MBA student
    Company: All Shapes and Colors, a specialized brand for same-sex parents and their children. The products include: T-shirts, bodysuits, bibs, baby albums, children books, a surrogacy book and stickers.
  • Runner-up: Majed Charife, MBA student
    Company: Hire Squire, a website and concierge service for international students looking to study in the United States.
  • Third place: Samantha Haag, entrepreneurship major
    Company: Nerdvana, a nerd-themed restaurant/social event.

"I'm grateful for every professor and mentor who believed that I had the potential to make my idea become reality," says Lopez Da Silva. "I listened carefully to their advice, and they helped me learn how to successfully develop and present a business plan."

In addition to the Howard Isaacson Innovation Challenge, Lynn offers a January Term course that gives undergraduate students the opportunity to brainstorm ideas and begin the process of developing concepts into businesses.

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