Undergraduate Students Win Madden Challenge with Digital Backpack App

March 22, 2013


biznotes-Madden-Challenge-largeFive first-year students at the Daniels College of Business took home the Madden Cup in the College’s first Madden Challenge in fall 2012. The undergraduate case competition requires first-year business students to develop and build a mobile app and present a business plan to bring it to market. A component of the Gateway to Business class, the Madden Challenge was funded by a $125,000 gift from John Madden, Jr., a Denver commercial real estate developer.

Of the more than 100 student teams to compete in the inaugural Challenge, 12 teams were selected to present to a panel of angel investors. The winning team created myBackpack, a resource for students with tablets. myBackpack replaces many typical items a student might carry in a traditional backpack, such as notebooks, books and day planners. The app also equips students with electronic note-taking, note-sharing and e-reader capability. Team members included freshmen Justin Koppstein, Taylor Shiffrin and Grant Wilkinson; sophomore Jensen Teague and junior Kayla Veatch.

The myBackpack creators were awarded $3,000 from the Madden Challenge fund, which they applied toward the creation of a new business, Inovize. Inovize will continue to develop custom technology applications, says Wilkinson, the developer of the myBackpack app. “The Madden Challenge inspired all of us and taught us about the different aspects of running a business,” he says. “The class and the Challenge put us in the position of real entrepreneurs, had us come up with a detailed business plan and go through the process of creating a company.” Avi Stopper, founder of CaptainU, a youth and college sports network, was one of the Madden Challenge’s panelist angel investors. He has since worked with the myBackpack team as a mentor.

The myBackpack app will be released for purchase in spring 2013 for $1.99 for the full app. It will also offer in-app options: PassingNotes, a note transferring tool, for 99 cents ; the mathematics package, which includes a scientific and graphic calculator, ruler and protractor, for $1.99;  and the English package, which includes a dictionary, thesaurus, and grammar and writing tools, for $1.99 . According to Wilkinson, Inovize plans to market the app to Colorado colleges and universities initially.