A pair of Ithaca College seniors won first prize in the third annual Park Tank competition on Friday, Oct. 7, for their anti-smoking device, StopPack.
Park Tank is a competition held by the Roy H. Park School of Communications where students pitch media-based business ideas to a panel of alumni and faculty judges. This year’s judges were Art Moore ’66, Laurie Greenberg ’80, Billy Hall ’84, Cara LeMieux ’02, Business School Dean Sean Reid and Bill Guerrero, vice president for finance and treasurer of Albertus Magnus College.
Eight teams of students competed to take home four cash prizes. Teams were given 60 seconds to pitch their concepts without the use of video, and if not voted off, they could then continue with video. After the pitch, judges asked questions and gave students feedback on their ideas.
First-place winners Sethavatey Limsreng ’17 and Alex Horner ’17 received a prize of $500. They pitched their invention, StopPack, a device and smartphone app that tracks data on users’ smoking habits in order to help them kick their habit. With the app, users can set goals to limit their smoking and share their progress with friends and family.
“We were looking for a problem to solve, and this one hit close to home for all of us,” Horner said.
Horner and Limsreng said they plan to use part of the award money to incorporate their business, and will spend the rest on prototyping and trademarks for the product.
Alumni judge Art Moore, who serves as vice president of programming at WABC-TV as well as executive in charge of production for the nationally syndicated program “Live with Kelly,” said he supported StopPack because although he is not a smoker, he has close friends who smoke and haven’t had success with traditional quitting methods.
“The key to why it could work is because it has more than one function with the data and support, and it’s truly impactful to have the social aspect,” Moore said.
Michayla Savitt ’17 took home the second-place prize of $300 with her idea for a podcast, “The Scoop on Mental Health.” The podcast will feature discussions promoting mental health awareness while participants eat ice cream. It will also raise funds to support counseling services on campus.
Savitt said she wants to break the stigma surrounding mental illness, getting her inspiration from first-hand experience with anxiety and depression. She wanted to combine this with her background in media production and radio.
“It made sense to apply this experience to a discussion-based podcast that features peers, professors and community members,” Savitt said. “Hopefully this important message can reach the Ithaca community and beyond to continue the dialogue and break the stigma.”
Savitt says she will use her prize money to fund the production of the podcast, online promotion, the creation of a public service announcement and, of course, the ice cream.
Omar Stoute ’17 took third place and also won the audience award for his idea for an app called Safe Ride, receiving a combined $200 prize. Stoute’s app will connect students in need of a ride home on weekend nights with a student driver who can safely drive them.
Moore says he enjoyed connecting with students and learning about things from a younger perspective, which keeps him motivated.
“Hearing from the students is something different than just coming back to campus,” Moore said. “It’s taking it to a new level of something I’ve never been a part of before. There’s nothing more stimulating than seeing young people with new ideas.”