A Seton Hall team of two sophomores took first place in the 3rd annual Health Care Transformation Challenge sponsored by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. Challenge participants were asked to develop a health care management product, service, or business concept that helps Horizon members take a more active role in their behavioral health and wellness.
With this in mind, Faith Akinlade, majoring in physics, and Belen Gamarra, majoring in psychology with a business minor, created Lotus. The Lotus app is designed to help gym members connect, track progress, meditate, and more, in order to manage personal change and growth. By sharpening the saw with exercises managed by the app, maintaining good health becomes much easier.
Gamarra shared, "A couple of months ago my business partner and friend, Faith, and I decided to embark on this journey... Together we came up with an innovative business concept … We have constantly evolved our idea, rehearsed our presentation many times, presented in front of professors, finally ending up with something we were proud of and passionate about."
In the end, she and Akinlade's hard work paid off, winning against several college teams including teams from Rutgers and NJIT, two powerhouses in the competition. Akinlade also shared, "Getting to know all the Horizon representatives, staff and other teams was an amazing experience."
The two emphasized how "Team Lotus" could not have done this alone. Behind their success are the people and programs that support Seton Hall students. For example, Akinlade attended the University's Entrepreneurship Boot Camp prior to the start of this academic year and both she and Gamarra are involved in the Stillman School of Business' Entrepreneurship Club. Akinlade is an officer in the club and the two have benefited from and have participated in several of the club's events and activities. The Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and its founding director Susan Scherreik also provided coaching and mentoring to help the two successfully submit and present their idea.
Gamarra was even one of a three-student team (along with finance major Luke Tyler and economics major Matthew Benjamin) that recently earned second-place honors at the Rutgers RISE weekend, pitching an AI-guided device that assists the visually disabled.
Scherreik pointed out that the Center is a resource for all University students interested in entrepreneurship and start-up/pitch competitions. She added that the Horizon Health Transformation Challenge is just one of many contests that Stillman's Center for Entrepreneurial Studies urges students to participate in, including the upcoming 2020 Big East Startup Challenge (March), Seton Hall's 10th annual Collegiate Pirates Pitch (April 1) and the statewide UPitchNJ (April 17). Last year a total of $16,000 was awarded to Pirates Pitch finalists who presented their ideas to an expert panel of judges. UPitchNJ is the premier statewide college pitch competition, recently sealing a major partnership with Bell Labs.
Sophomore leaders, Akinlade and Gamarra are also members of the inaugural class of the University's Buccino Leadership Institute, the first interdisciplinary undergraduate leadership program of its kind in the United States.