A team of Gannon students was announced as the fifth winner of Gannon University’s Technology Business Accelerator business pitch event Thursday.
The team, Nick Pipitone, Brennan Moore and Faisal Alqahtani, developed a social media app, called DaBull, and received a grant of $10,000 as well as six months of office space, coaching and strategic mentoring from the Erie Technology Incubator at Gannon, legal assistance from MacDonald Illig and MMI Intellectual Property and one year of e-commerce training provided by Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ eMarketing Learning Center.
The team pitched its idea to a panel of five judges in order to receive the grant. The students competed against 15 other businesses – each with different concepts – for the prize.
Pipitone said that DaBull started out as a senior project for the team’s New Venture Creation class.
“When we first started working on this project, we just wanted an A in the class,” Pipitone said. “We never would have imagined that our idea would win us $10,000 down the road.”
They had the opportunity, through the class, to create a real product that can make a difference on campus.
Pipitone also said that the purpose of the app was different than the final result.
“The idea started as an app to help students buy, sell, and trade books on campus, but it quickly evolved into something more,” Pipitone said.
Pipitone said that the app will act as more of a form of social media and will utilize a proprietary algorithm to connect students with similar social interests.
“The app will act as a friend-finder, with marketing efforts focusing on incoming freshmen, transfer students and international students, who might find it hard to make friends and socialize,” said Pipitone.
Pipitone also said that DaBull is different from other social media apps. DaBull will connect people with individuals that they will be able to create quality relationships with.
“Instead of encouraging a quantity of friends we are devoted to creating real, meaningful, quality, friendships,” he said.
The team created the app in hopes to connect people in a way that will help them adjust to college and allow them to get involved in more activities that they are interested in.
The prototype of DaBull will launch in the fall. Anyone with a Gannon ID will be able to download the app and join for free.
After the launch of the prototype, the team plans to collect and analyze market research data in order to make adjustments and improvements. Students are encouraged to download the app and give the team feedback when it becomes available.
Also recognized at the event were three additional finalists. Lake Effect Decoys, an upscale duck hunting decoy manufacturer; Delectabites, a food products producer; and InnCampus, a Gannon student-led startup that will enable colleges to monetize their idle housing assets.
The accelerator program at Gannon integrates resources from the College of Engineering and Business, Small Business Development Center and Erie Technology Incubator, and was created to give participating entrepreneurs an opportunity to test a new concept, idea or line of business through the support of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).
Since its inception in fall 2014, the Accelerator has now graduated 63 technology-related entrepreneurial businesses from across Northwest Pennsylvania.