Fashion Tech Hackathon teams dominate LaunchNET’s Idea Olympics 2017

On Thursday, March 9, two teams that formed during the Fashion Tech Hackathon in January took top spots at the annual LaunchNET Kent State Idea Olympics competition. “Abeona, the total immersion jacket” took first place, while “Hermes, the helmet with brains,” took second place. Two other ideas, Popstyle and The Bean Bike, tied for third place, while GIFTY (Gestalting Youth) won the Social Enterprise award.


The team that developed Abeona, a tech-enhanced hiking jacket, consists of Ryan Holland (graduate, Digital Sciences), Brian Steinhoff (senior, Digital Science), Albert Morganti (senior, Electrical Engineering), Jessica Musto (senior, Fashion Design), and Sarah Lynch (senior, Fashion Design), and  they also won the ”Best Creation of a New Technology” award at the Hackathon. The team won $1500 and advances to the regional competition, IdeaLabs, where they will pitch their idea along with 10 other Northeast Ohio university teams at Lake Erie College on April 6.


“This win, coupled with the interest we received at the hackathon, has really boosted our confidence in the viability of our product and made it a possibility as a legitimate business venture in our eyes. We are excited to take on regionals and see just how far this jacket can take us,” says Abeona team member Ryan Holland.

Hermes, developed by Naser Al Madi, a doctoral student in Computer Science, is an active-sports helmet with embedded technological features to keep the wearer safe and aware of their surroundings. Besides the $1000 prize from LaunchNET, the idea also won “Best Advancement of an Existing Technology” at the Hackathon. By adding tech features like “ears” that can measure wind and incorporating an informational display, Hermes becomes more than just head protection, but also a tool that hang gliders can use to combat mental fatigue while riding.


Because of the wealth of viable business ideas, the judges: business owner Sharlene Ramos Chesnes, entrepreneurs Tessa Reeves and NeCole Cumberlander, and Stephen Roberts, director of Technology Commercialization and Research Finance at Kent State, chose to award two third place honors.

The 2 third-place winners were Obianuju Izuchukwu (sophomore, Fashion Merchandising) with her pop-up thrift shop idea, Popstyle, and Colton Jones (senior, entrepreneurship) with his coffee bike vendor, The Bean Bike, who both won $500.


A $500 Social Enterprise award went to the team of Gestalting Youth (GIFTY): Robert Whipple (senior, Pan African Studies) and Rachel Hardy (junior, Fashion Merchandising), who is developing a program for inner-city youth using Gestalt psychological themes.

The other finalists who pitched at the competition were The Pastimes by Evan Laisure (senior, Visual Communication Design) and Mowgig by Richard Hildebrand (graduate, MBA).

The Idea Olympics is an annual competition held by LaunchNET Kent State to assist Kent State students with innovative business ideas with funding as well as to choose a deserving team to go forward to the regional Idea Labs competition. IdeaLabs is hosted by the  Entrepreneurship Education Consortium, a collective of eleven northeast Ohio universities focused on creating experiential entrepreneurship activities to promote entre/intrapreneurship among college students.

POSTED: Thursday, March 16, 2017 - 11:11am
UPDATED: Thursday, March 16, 2017 - 11:12am