Planitous, a mobile trip planner for Android and iOS, which “makes a snap out of” planning trips, grabbed first prize and $15,000 at the Darzawah Student Innovation Contest for the best innovative and entrepreneurial business idea.
Planitous is the brainchild of Karim Frenn and Guy Daher, both fresh graduates in computer and communications engineering (BE 2014). The runner up prize of $5,000 went to Doctor-Patient Communication Service, developed by Diana Abou Daher, Sabine Karout, and May Tehaili, all three are doing a master’s in business administration.
“Out of the original 108 applications, 16 were shortlisted and only six made it as finalists,” said Bijan Azad, director of the Samih Darwazah Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship Center at AUB, in his welcoming remarks on June 13, 2014 at the Olayan School of Business (OSB) Conference Center. “We thank the Darwazah family for their generous support in celebrating the upcoming entrepreneurs and the realization of their ideas.”
The Darwazah family owns and operates Hikma Pharmaceuticals plc, the Middle East’s own pharmaceutical giant with manufacturing plants in USA, Europe, Gulf and MENA, a $2.6 billion capitalized company listed on the London Stock Exchange and part of FTSE 250.
The purpose of the contest is to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation among AUB undergraduate and graduate students, as well as collaboration among students from different disciplines, while sharing knowledge and coming up with a well-rounded and complete proposal for an innovative product or service. This is the first edition of the Darwazah Student Innovation Contest.
Planitous recommends attractions and sites for travelers, depending on their preferences and previous trips. Based on the length of a trip, it automatically schedules sites for visiting while maximizing leisure time. The sites are placed on a map so that the app users can visualize their daily itinerary, with the option to view the trip offline whenever they want and wherever they are.
Meanwhile, the mobile-based Doctor-Patient Communication Service enables on-the-go communication between doctors and patients. The service allows patients to obtain a consultation from one’s own doctor when a face-to-face clinic visit is impractical, with the option of sharing lab results and prescriptions through voice/video communication. For doctors, it allows a reimbursement for a phone consultation, with the possibility of viewing lab results and prescriptions.
The other finalists included: Limni, a third-party administration service among insurance companies, accident experts, and GPS locators for tow trucks, repair shops, and spare parts providers to streamline any actions related to road mishaps; SpaceOS, which uses nano-micro satellites at 500-1500 kilometers above Earth’s surface, to provide web access to locations that currently do not have Internet access across the globe; Ringaged, a ring that broadcasts a unique ID, coupled with a mobile application, with access to personal info and access to personal belongings, based on a simple handshake between two people wearing the ring; and BreatheGreen, which addresses new cement technologies, mainly Lafarge and Novacem, that would drastically reduce the air pollution problem in Chekka.
The jury was composed of: Mazen Darwazah, president of Hikma MENA; Fadi Bizri, general manager of BADER-Lebanon; Paul Chucrallah, senior strategy advisor at BeryTech Fund; Fouad Mrad, executive director of ESCWA Technology Center; and Elie Nasr, general manager of FOO.Mobi; Yolla Serieddine, manager of the credit department at Kafalat.
The 16 semi-finalist teams received a one-day training and mentoring in how to prepare a business plan for their startup idea including how to perform financial and market feasibility studies of their ideas.
The finalists were graded according to: technical originality of their idea (30%); market viability (20%); team coherence, roles and responsibilities (10%); experience in the field presented (10%); financials including projections for revenues and expenses (10%); and presentation and persuasion skills in the allotted time of six minutes for each team (20%).
“Our purpose remains to see the results of our students’ hard work materialized, in the entrepreneurial spirit of Daniel Bliss,” said OSB Acting Dean Salim Chahine. “We not only wish to bring out the best in our students but also encourage the entire community in the entrepreneurial spirit.”
“Before the contest we simply had no idea about the hard work required to turn an idea into a realistic innovation that has even a tiny chance in the market,” said Guy Daher, of the Planitous team. “This contest was hugely important for our team, and we had a fantastic time every step of the way,” added teammate Karim Frenn.
Members of the runner-up Doctor Patient Communication Service team also commended the contest for enriching their formal education.“We really cannot think of a better way of integrating what we learn in the classroom with the competitive market realities,” said Sabine Karout.
Darwazah Center Director Bijan Azad was all praise of students and the quality of submissions. “We have always known that students are a pillar of our great institution,” he said. But we did not expect that in our first season, four of the six finalists to be already getting either investor or incubation inquiries! This is very gratifying for us and we will continue to showcase and grow the innovation and entrepreneurial capabilities of AUB’s students.”