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'Pitch' contest winners: 'Deal-of-week' website, unique fundraiser and power generating project



INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research recently announced the winners of the third annual Ideas Solving Social and Economic Challenges student “pitch” competition. The contest encourages IUPUI students to come up with innovative ideas to solve real-world problems through new approaches, products, services or ventures.

The 2014 Ideas Solving Social and Economic Challenges winners and their innovative solutions are:

First place, $2,500: Payne Chestnut, Usman Chaudhary and Roshan Selladurai, IU Kelley School of Business

Foodraiser: A deal-of-the-week website that offers premium coupons for Indianapolis’ best restaurants. Foodraiser also serves as a fundraising platform, with the majority of revenue being donated to a noble cause or nonprofit. Foodraiser offers weekly meal deals (such as half off an entree) from one restaurant, and four add-on deals (such as a discounted dessert or appetizer) from that restaurant and three other participating restaurants.

Second place, $1, 500: Laken Sisko, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Kelsey’s Voice: Looks at each high school art classroom as a potential conduit of a micro-investment into the community via the art therapy program of their choosing based upon funds co-raised by the students and Kelsey’s Voice’s unique funding method. 

Third place, $500: Drew Witte, Purdue University School of Engineering and Technology

Wood to Electricity: Micro-Grid Kits for Developing Parts of the World: Could be used in developing countries to power people out of poverty by providing power for communication, education and economic development.


Audience choice, $1,000: Abdul Karim Khan, Purdue School of Science

My Size Now: Helps the e-commerce industry by providing consumers a tool to use when purchasing clothing online.  Consumers would input their sizes into a database that then matches their sizes to perfectly fit clothing on websites they use regularly.

The competition’s structure allows students three minutes to present to judges their concept or solution, without the benefit of slides or other props. According to competition moderator Karen White, research development and commercialization facilitator in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, this “elevator pitch” format teaches students to tell their story, in a concise and persuasive manner, at a moment’s notice.

“For our team, winning first was validation of our idea,” said first-place winner Payne Chestnut. “We had a few hundred hours invested in this project, and we were pretty confident that we had a good idea; the win confirmed that for us.

“In the short term, we plan to run a small-scale version of our idea for research and testing purposes, with much technology. Something should be put together in the next couple of weeks. Going forward, Roshan Selladurai plans to take this idea long term. He would love to start it here in Indy and eventually expand the model to other cities.” 

A panel of expert judges internal and external to IUPUI selected the first- through third-place pitches.

“This competition is an exciting example of the innovation and energy the students and faculty of IUPUI are generating, both for their individual growth and that of the greater Indianapolis community,” judge George Farra, co-founder and principal of Woodley Farra Manion Portfolio Management, Inc., said.

“The ideas presented by students from many of the schools and disciplines on our campus were all worthy of recognition,” said judge David Steele, a local entrepreneur and adjunct faculty member with IU Kelley School of Business. ”The diligence each individual displayed in developing and presenting (an) idea, and its application to solving current and future challenges, reflects exceptionally well on the orientation and capability of the entire IUPUI student body.”

The pitches from 13 finalists included a wide range of potential products, new ventures or nonprofit projects.

“We are gratified that there are many good outcomes arising from this event each year,” said Kody Varahramyan, IUPUI vice chancellor for research. “This is all thanks to the participating students and their ideas and passion to contribute to the societal and economic wellbeing.”

For more information, contact Karen White at or 317-274-1083.