EAU CLAIRE—The team of UW-Eau Claire graduates Sam Fitzhenry, Max Bossert, Logan Ickert and UW-Madison graduate Nicholas Hersperger won the 2020-2021 WiSys APPStart Challenge.
The annual contest connects great mobile app ideas with the expertise and resources needed to launch them. The team’s app for their startup ParityBlu aims to offer an all-in-one solution to connect multiple Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as TVs, speakers or smart thermostats into one centralized app.
Through the contest, finalists receive initial app development support and business mentorship over the course of five months from WiSys partners. The winner receives a prize package totaling more than $10,000 in cash and services to assist in launching the app as a business.
“Congratulations to the ParityBlu team for all their hard work, not only coming up with a great idea, but working to take it to the next step,” said WiSys President Arjun Sanga. “WiSys is proud to support these emerging entrepreneurs.”
The challenge opened to faculty, staff, students and alumni from WiSys schools (UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout, UW-Superior and UW-Whitewater) in October 2020.
Seventy-three entries, with representation from each of the 11 UW System regional universities that WiSys serves, were submitted. The entries were evaluated based on the significance of the problem being addressed and the participants’ vision for how their app could solve the problem.
This year’s other finalists included UW-La Crosse Associate Professor Patrick Grabowski and UW-Stout alum Emerson Kovacs, who finished in second and third place respectively. The runners up are also eligible for cash prizes.
WiSys’ entrepreneurial contest was sponsored by Madison-based Noble Applications. The software company also served as the app development partner for the teams.
"We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to sponsor the APPStart contest for the second year running. Our team is grateful for the inspiring experience of collaborating with the WiSys team and all three amazing finalists this year,” said Noble Applications CEO Steve O'Brien. “We congratulate each finalist on their award and thank them for their collaboration and inspiring vision. It’s been an honor to do our part to help bring their innovative app ideas to life."
The Next Challenge
WiSys has renewed the challenge for 2021-2022.
The WiSys APPStart Challenge will again be open to students, faculty, staff and alumni from all WiSys universities (UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, UW-Green Bay, UW Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout, UW-Superior, UW-Whitewater).
WiSys will accept submissions later this fall. The easy submission process requires only a description of the app idea in 250 words or less.
To learn more about the WiSys APPStart Challenge, visit wisys.org/appstart.
About Noble Applications
Noble Applications is headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin and provides software design and development services with a focus on mobile applications and custom software applications. They’re ready to help you start turning your ideas into beautifully designed, flawlessly executed applications today. You know your business, they build your apps.
WiSys is a nonprofit organization that works with faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the UW System to facilitate cutting-edge research programs, develop and commercialize discoveries and foster a spirit of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking across the state.