Two students pitch smart phone application to manage payments, rewards accounts; win Venture

Everything starts with an idea, but Daniel Pearson and Tyler Gostinger got a $30,000 check for theirs.

Central Michigan University’s New Venture Competition, a business plan competition launched by the College of Business Administration, gave students from all fields of study a chance to compete Friday.

About 200 people were in attendance in the Education and Human Services Building, including professors, supporters and students from various Michigan colleges who pitched their ideas.

The idea Pearson, a Waterford senior, and Gostinger, a Harbor Springs junior, created is HybridPay. It would allow consumers to use their smartphones to incorporate multiple payment and rewards accounts into one application.

“I was always using a ton of different cards to capitalize on the different rewards programs, so I just thought there had to have been another way to consolidate on all these different (cards),” Pearson said.

The team spent about six months creating the concept.

“I can’t even think straight,” Pearson said. “I am excited all of our hard work paid off.”

The team plans on soliciting bids from companies for the development of their idea with the award.

The dozens of other business ideas presented ranged from growing and utilizing eco-friendly bamboo, to starting an educational center for the inner-city youth of Detroit to making gluten-free food.

Second place winners earned $10,000 and third place earned $5,000. There also was a separate-split $1,000 prize.

The winners were announced over dinner in the Bovee University Center Rotunda room later that evening.

Ken Kousky, executive director of the BlueWater Angels, the largest angel investment network in Michigan, was one of the nine judges during the final round. Angel investment networks seek to invest in early small-stage business endeavors.

Kousky said the judges tried to hold the finalists to a higher standard than simply having a good business idea.

“We really try to look at these companies and say, 'Would we actually invest in them?'” Kousky said. “What we see today is a tremendous maturity process that is involved here."

The judges ranked the concepts from a scale of zero to 100 for each of the three finalists’ teams. Kousky said because the judges all had different priorities and expertise, it was a balanced team.

Robby Roberts, LaBelle Entrepreneurial Center associate director, said all of the teams worked hard and learned a great deal working with partners and team members.

“It is a great experience,” Roberts said. “The winners have a lot of money to invest and hopefully they will put that in their business plan and use that. But the experience for the students is unlimited"