Winners for Pace Pitch Contest Announced

Yesterday the finals of the Pace University Pitch Contest were held in Manhattan. The contest featured a social venture track and a new business concept track. Here is a little bit about the winners RareShare.org and OpenOtto:

Social Venture Track Winner RareShare.org:

RareShare.org was founded in the summer of 2008 on the idea that there is a better way to bring together patients, families and healthcare professionals to share knowledge and personal experiences about rare medical disorders. RareShare is a social hub of online communities focused on the rare disease market. While individually these diseases affect a small portion of the population, together they affect over 30 million individuals in the United States and Europe alone. In the United States there are over 1,500 diseases that qualify for Orphan diseases status which are defined as diseases affecting less than 200,000 people.

Due to the low number of occurrences of individual rare diseases, there is often a lack of information, support and communication between people affected by these rare conditions. RareShare creates micro communities centered around individuals, families and friends affected by these ailments, allowing them to share experiences, treatment opportunities and to provide support through often times uncharted territory. While for most rare diseases there are online resources offering static information, there are few sites that offer peer to peer support and up-to-date information on treatments.

Upon joining RareShare, members can create a user profile and join individual disorder communities. Once a member of a community, members can update information (facts, resources, treatments, tips, etc.) wiki-style and post questions or comments to community forums. Healthcare professional have the option of becoming “community experts” allowing them to moderate discussions. Future feature additions to the site include personal journals, PubMed articles, clinical trial information, and advanced communication systems between members.

Since its launch in June 2008, RareShare has registered over 700 active users spanning over 500 rare disorders, a true testament to the need for this service. RareShare has been featured in multiple publications including: The Toronto Star, St. Louis Post, Read Write Web and the Genetic Interest Group. RareShare’s current focus is on building its user base because as with any social network, the value is directly proportionate to the number of individuals using the service. By partnering with disorder advocacy groups and various other marketing and public relations campaigns RareShare hopes to reach those individuals searching for information and support.

New Business Concept Winner OpenOtto (s0rry about formatting — I cut/pasted this out of an email and wordpress didn’t like it):

You don’t have to be David Hasselhoff in Knight Rider to have your car talk to you.

OpenOtto is a platform for developing vehicle aware products for the consumer and industrial markets. While it will not ask you how you’re doing this evening, most people don’t realize how much information your car’s computer can tell you.

OpenOtto consists of a hardware interface to your car’s OBD II connector as well as an extensible software platform for communicating with all networked electronic devices in the car. Designed for flexibility and scalability, it is easily expandable
to future vehicle capabilities. OpenOtto consists of two products targeted to different markets.

The first is a car computer that acts as an interface between your car’s computer and a 4″ x 8″ touch screen display that attaches to your dashboard.

The interface shows easy to understand graphical output from your car’s computer including, but not limited to, standard OBD II output: coolant temperature, engine speed, oxygen sensor readings, and emission related trouble codes. Advanced features include outputting suspension control, anti-lock/traction control, and air bag status. Additional safety and security features include a remote start and kill feature for anti-theft or convenience, display warnings to users when the transmission begins to fail, individual wheel speed indicating wheel slippage, and real-time engine performance monitoring.

The second product is priced lower for the general consumer. It includes the ability to attach any cell phone with GPS to OpenOtto. Once attached, the car’s computer will text message someone (e.g., a parent) if the car exceeds a certain speed and GPS coordinates will be texted, and call 911 if airbags deploy (no proprietary subscription necessary).

Safety and security is important and built into the computer engineering designs. Some features will be access controlled and
transmission of all sensitive data transmitted by OpenOtto will be encrypted using industry standard best practices to ensure safety, security, and privacy of the user.

The software and hardware designs will be released as free and open source designs to encourage adoption and adaptation of the features. For consumers, a complete dashboard mounted display with computer will cost between $300-$500.00. The closest product currently on the market costs between $1000-$5000.00 and does not include open software and hardware platforms, graphical dash board mounted displays, or customizable features. The low cost consumer device will target a retail cost of $100-$200. Try getting KITT for that price.

Two pretty interesting ideas. Love the OpenOtto in the context of the current state of the auto industry.


2 thoughts on “Winners for Pace Pitch Contest Announced

  1. David, I just saw your posting about OpenOtto. I’m very glad you’re interested in the open source/free software project. If you’d like info on contributing tech or business expertise to the project, please see the website. The next time I’m in NYC (hopefully toward the end of the spring semester, 2009), I’m going to be talking to Bruce Bachenheimer’s class about the Pitch contest experience and what we’ve done since the competition.

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