A team of three UCSB students won the Kauffman Foundation’s international entrepreneurship competition last weekend in Silicon Valley with their mobile textbook sharing application 1night.me.
Undergraduates Christian DeHoyos, Jason Vianna and Justin Kasad — who make up the competition’s youngest and smallest team — took home over $100,000 in software services from companies such as FreshBooks and TalkBox for the group’s prototype, available soon on iPhone and Android cell phones. The application provides a network allowing students to loan and borrow textbooks for up to 24 hours and was inspired by a range of mediums including textbook rental company Chegg, Davidson Library’s course reserve system, Craigslist and Netflix. During the course of the weekend, the group was required to formulate the proposal within a 54-hour time period.
The group was chosen out of an applicant pool of 120 and beat out competitors from schools such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford.
According to Vianna, a second-year global studies major, the program provides a cheaper and more convenient alternative to the library and bookstore.
“With so many budget cuts to the education system, [the library cannot always provide] necessary textbooks,” Vianna said. “This [application] makes things easier for college students, or any student in general. This idea can be applied to any product, like vacuums or lawnmowers.”
DeHoyos, a third-year anthropology major, said the business’s utilitarian approach helped the applicants stand out among the highly competitive contestants.
“No one was more surprised than us,” DeHoyos said. “What allowed us to win was that we were solving a real problem that people actually have rather than just coming up with revolutionary technology.”
DeHoyos said Microsoft interns and developers from the popular college flirting website LAL.com have already approached the team with investment offers. The group will now turn its focus to launching their textbook rental application in colleges throughout the nation, according to DeHoyos.