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Local Teens Win Business Venture in IMSA Contest
Illinois Ag Connection - 03/20/2017

Ayan Agarwal wowed judges and garnered the top cash prize for Blabl, a mobile application that engages speech-impaired children in conversation with an avatar, at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy's (IMSA) Power Pitch competition.

Agarwal, an IMSA senior, was among 24 teams of budding high school entrepreneurs to participate in the annual business pitch competition for students in grades 6 through 12. The local competition, in its' 9th year, was developed prior to the ABC television program, Shark Tank and -- and just like on TV -- students had the chance to pitch their tech-enabled venture or social venture ideas to real-world business professionals.

Joshua Orr, a student at Avery Coonley Middle School in Downers Grove, also brought home a top prize for FastExit, a life-saving solution that uses camera-algorithm-enabled exit signs to manage crowd movement during an emergency. A second middle school team of Catelyn Rounds and Julian Kroschke earned honors for their grocery store navigation app, Shop Cheetah.

Agarwal advances to the Next Launch regional pitch competition for high school students in Indiana along with two other teams, one made up of Sushil and Pranav Upadhyayula who pitched Heat2Heal, a hands-free, self-powered Arthritis Wrap that converts body heat into electricity providing targeted massaging and heat therapy for still joints. Also advancing to the regional competition is the team of Sivam Bhatt and Nikhil Madugula who engineered Flameless, a device that extinguishes cooking fires automatically using sound wave technology.

IMSA's Power Pitch, hosted by the Academy's TALENT program, is designed to help middle and high school students build and launch STEM business ventures. Past winners include student startups that have gone on to receive investment on Shark Tank for an anti-cyberbullying smart phone app, and successfully predict Brexit and the 2016 U.S. presidential election using social media sentiment.

Interested teens may take advantage of TALENT workshops, mentors, internships, summer camps, pitch competitions and IMSA's membership in 1871, Chicagoland's acclaimed incubator for digital startups. For more information about IMSA's TALENT program, visit imsa.edu/talent/talenthome, or e-mail Dr. Carl Heine at heine@imsa.edu.

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