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On November 1, 24 USC student teams competed in the 13th Annual USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase for $27,500 in cash prizes and $30,000 in in-kind awards, pitching innovative business ideas to a panel of expert judges. The Academy showed a strong presence with five student teams competing. Of those, two Academy teams took home top prizes, collectively winning $29,000 in awards and surpassing all other competing USC schools.
Donielle Sullivan, Del Necessary, and Jim Welty are the team behind Infinity Box.
Infinity Box - Donielle Sullivan, Del Necessary, Jim Welty
$10,000 Diem Shotwell Metcalfe Family Fund Best Business Concept Award
$15,000 Brooks Kushman Patentability Award
Infinity Box is a collapsible, infinitely reusable fleet of shipping boxes featuring a low-power GPS tracking and customer-centered logistics. The idea was conceived in an Academy graduate class and empowers consumers with an option to offset e-commerce waste in today's world of one-click doorstep delivery.
"Infinity Box began as a lab project in our Opportunities and Uncertainties Integrative Lab class," said Donielle Sullivan, Academy graduate student and team leader. "These funds will provide the catalyst needed to migrate from a robust student project to a funded business."
The team won the most prize money of anyone at the showcase, earning the $10,000 Diem Shotwell Metcalfe Family Fund Best Business Concept Award and the $15,000 Brooks Kushman Patentability Award, which funds legal services and drafts a complete patent application before filing it with the U.S. Patent Office.
Following the first round of pitches, Sokolov took center stage after placing in the top ten to pitch her supportive social network to investors.
Trill Project - Ariana Sokolov
$4,000 Daniel Floersheimer Global Impact Award
Ariana Sokolov's social network Trill Project was awarded the $4,000 Daniel Floersheimer Global Impact Award, which recognizes the most innovative idea to solve global, social or environmental issues. Trill Project is an anonymous social network for mental health support which uses machine learning to direct users to mental health resources (trillproject.com). The app has already been downloaded 50,000 times, tweeted about by Tim Cook, and named Apple App of the Day.
"Trill Project began in January 2018, in a high school Girls Who Code club, with the goal of making the Internet a safer space for everyone. Since then, we've grown into our current team of teens, operating out of the dorms of USC, Harvard, Brown and MIT."
Ariana Sokolov won the Global Impact Award.
Other Academy student startups competing in this year's competition include:
ZiM: A social marketplace for personal care that curates products by hair and skin type - founded by graduate student Kristina Williams.
SwimGuard: A service that uses cameras in swimming pools to prevent drowning - founded by graduate student Ryan Walton.
ELOQ: A device that keeps dangerous sources of energy locked away to prevent harm to workers - founded by graduate student Nelson Abreu.
Eight USC schools, including Iovine and Young Academy, Marshall School of Business, Viterbi School of Engineering, Keck School of Medicine, participated in this year's competition.