The Winners of Emory’s HackATL 2016
Safe.ly — 1st Place
The first place winner of HackATL was Safe.ly, a team comprised of students from diverse educational backgrounds. The five-person team includes: Pramod Kotipalli, a second year computer science undergraduate at Georgia Institute of Technology, Eeshwar Chandrasekar, a second year medical student at Emory University, Nicholas Maamari and Ivan Ramos, both first year business undergraduates at Emory, and Annmarie Stockinger, a third year math and biology undergraduate at Georgia State University. Safe.ly received a $1,500 grand prize.
The team describes Safe.ly as “a personal blue light system that will inform loved ones, the nearby community, and the police of dangerous situations. Its goal is to help people have control over their own lives during violent acts like sexual assault and armed robberies on college campuses. Our pitch at HackATL included a functional mobile app demo, a developed business portfolio, and a prototype of our wearable device.”
How did the idea start?
Annmarie Stockinger: I initially did not start college at GSU. At the university I previously attended, I was sexually assaulted second semester of freshman year. Since then, I have been interested in coming up with a preventative solution for these types of terrible events. I met Pramod before HackATL, and we both became very interested in this idea.
Pramod Kotipalli: The core aspect of our product is community. A lot of our competitor apps are a mass-market program, so there is no sense of community or efficacy; the thing that I really brought into the team was the idea of getting the community engaged and finding others who can be helpful in certain situations.
What were each of your roles in developing this product?
Eeshwar Chandrasekar: I think it’s pretty difficult to distinguish our roles; each of us wore each other’s hats. We had team members analyzing data, helping with technical aspects of the product, and also helping with marketing projections.
AS: As an example, I had to do some graphic design by designing the product’s logo, despite being a math major. We all helped each other out with skills we were not familiar with. All of us worked on at least one part of this project that was completely out of our comfort zone. We really pushed each other to see what we could accomplish and mentored each other along the way. We also have a mix of grade levels — I think the younger team members brought interesting insight into the team and the older team members helped shape these ideas into a more elegant product. This is how we were able to come together as a team.
Ivan Ramos: In addition, we also used statistical analysis — we used a lot of numbers to ensure that our projections would be accurate. We went through salary, payroll, and taxes: the nitty-gritty.
How do you all hope to expand Safe.ly in the future?
PK: We want to start off at Emory and run a pilot program. Afterwards, we are going to target other institutions based on Georgia; we hope to work with three more schools next year, for a total of four schools. Also, we hope to utilize our team members’ connections to different locations based on their hometowns, such as New York, and target the schools in these areas as well. We know that some of our competitors have expanded to 15 schools in two years, so we want to do the same — we think this is a low estimate of how we can expand.
Flashsale — 2nd Place
Coming in second place was Flashsale, a fashion marketplace app and website created by three Emory University sophomores: Spike Lu, Antonio Chan, and Poome Thavornvanit. Flashsale differs from other online marketplaces because the price of the items for sale drops a little each day. Once a seller posts an item for sale, buyers watch the price drop until it reaches an agreeable amount for the buyer. However, the seller ultimately has control over the price, so the price of a product will never go below a certain baseline amount set by the seller.
How would you describe your product?
Spike Lu: Our product is an online retailing platform. It incentivizes buyers with decreasing prices over time while also incentivizing sellers to post items by allowing the product to be sold as fast as possible.
Moving forward, what are your goals for Flashsale?
SL: We want to start with some really cool releases, including rare and covetable fashion items. We hope to target the niche fashion market in Atlanta through social media, including Instagram and Facebook. Eventually, we hope to expand nationwide.
Antonio Chan: In terms of the technical aspect of the company, Poome and I will be working hard on developing a back end and cleaning up the front end of Flashsale’s application and website.
Poome Thavornvanit: To reiterate, initially, we plan to reach out to fashion-forward individuals in order to create a strong foundation and social marketplace on the app. Then, as we grow as a company, we wish to collaborate with other clothing brands and retailers.
How do you plan on locating this initial niche market?
SL: Since Atlanta has a huge hip-hop music following and in general is a large music hub, we hope to take advantage of this by targeting individuals who come to Atlanta for the music and fashion scenes. We believe that this will give us a good foundation. By reaching out to these influencers through social media, we can expand at a national level in the future.
A big thank you to all the participants and everyone involved in making HackATL 2016 a great success! Best of luck to the winners going forward.
See you next year at HackATL 2017.