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Aspiring student app developers won project funding, here's what they are creating

From improving the process for club connections to simply helping other entrepreneurs, these student developers are funding their apps after Open Pitch winnings

A phone has brain, globe and waffle icons on it. 

Student entrepreneurs are developing apps such as Think Bank, Network, and Worldwide Waffles thanks to money they won from Open Pitch.


Nowadays, it seems like there is an app for everything, and some Sun Devils are proving it by taking their app inventions to the next level.

For the past two semesters, aspiring app developers were among the winners of the $250 prize at Open Pitch, a five-day competition where students pitch their ideas to win the crowd-favorite prize, where they earn a chance to take their ideas a step further.

Open Pitch, hosted by J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute, welcomes students to pitch their app ideas to win the crowd-favorite prize to help make their ideas a reality.

Tristan Tierce, a sophomore majoring in art studies and business entrepreneurship, won at Open Pitch last September when he pitched Worldwide Waffles, a travel app for people with food allergies.

READ MORE: From mosquito nets to food apps: Students look to build businesses

Tierce has not used any of the money yet but said he developed a prototype for the app despite his self-proclaimed lack of coding experience.

"It was very fulfilling to actually do that," Tierce said. "Obviously, it's nowhere near what a professional developer would be able to do but it was proving, OK, I'm able to do stuff on my own actually."

This semester, there were 33 participants in Open Pitch, said Bailey Gading, senior program coordinator for ASU's student outreach and engagement, in an email.

The following apps are from two winners from this semester's competitions who plan to use the money they won from Open Pitch to support their business ideas from creating an app to compete with Sun Devil Sync to making an app where young entrepreneurs can share their ideas.

An alternative to Sun Devil Sync

Benjamin Moxon, a junior studying electrical engineering, took his frustration with Sun Devil Sync and transformed it into an app idea to compete with it, called Network.

Sun Devil Sync, ASU’s online student involvement system, is failing to connect students with organizations and clubs, Moxon said.

"When I talk to people about where they get their members from, they're like, 'Yeah, no, it's all word of mouth mostly,'" Moxon said. "Feels kind of crazy to me."

Network would put a club's contact information at the top of the page to make it easier for students to get in touch, Moxon said.

Mason Wong, a student studying industrial engineering and president of Sun Devil Poker, said over an email that students are not always sure where to go on Sun Devil Sync when trying to join a club. There are some interface issues with what information appears on their Sun Devil Sync page, but besides that, the website works fine, Wong said.

Network would try to operate separately from the University, according to Moxon; however, he said this level of independence could end up backfiring because of University guidelines that say clubs and organizations are not considered fully operational by ASU until they register on Sun Devil Sync.

"Obviously we have to work with schools, like you can't just avoid universities for something like this," Moxon said. "But I don't want to be a program that is owned by the University and controlled by the University."

Network is in an early stage of development, and Moxon is currently working on creating the software himself.

Moxon's Open Pitch experience showed him there is an audience for Network, and he is surprised that his new idea is already getting funding.

"It's about six weeks old, which is why I'm so surprised I actually got the $250 in the first place," Moxon said. "It's kind of incredible."

An app for young entrepreneurs, by a young entrepreneur

Zachary Magers, a graduate student studying global management, wants to create a new space for young creative thinkers to brainstorm their ideas.

Think Bank will be a social media app where entrepreneurs can connect with other users to share and refine their ideas in private groups and public forums. Users will be able to upgrade to a gold membership, a monthly subscription that will connect them to professionals who can get their ideas off the ground.

There are already many apps where people promote their startups, like Product Hunt, a website for new apps, and there is nothing stopping people from taking their ideas to Facebook or Twitter, but Magers hopes Think Bank will be more welcoming to younger people and provide them a space to be productive.

"The only people I know who use Facebook are my mom and my grandma, so Facebook is not reaching the younger generation as much," Magers said. "Twitter is very noisy, (and) people can post almost anything. The goal of this platform is to create a creative place with a professional atmosphere."

Right now Think Bank is only an idea, and Magers said he will save the money from Open Pitch to use on the app later. Magers met with staff at the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute last month to discuss the future of Think Bank, and they came up with new ideas for making the app more secure.

"We discussed potentially using blockchain technology to trace the idea to the owner so that the owner stays protected and can safely share ideas," Magers said over an email. "The next step is finding students who are interested in working on this project with me, and I think ASU will definitely have some willing students."


Reach the reporter at kryback1@asu.edu and follow @KadenRyback on Twitter. 

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Kaden RybackBusiness and Tech Reporter

Kaden is a reporter for the Biztech desk, focusing on student run business, people profiles and research papers. During his time at The State Press, Kaden's biggest piece was about ASU's history with NASA. He's a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication.


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