Time spent in the beer aisle helped inspire a University of Richmond student’s winning idea at a recent business contest.
UR senior Nick Creegan and his craft beer app Taps took top honors at the school’s annual Business Pitch Competition last week.
Taps is a mobile app that uses an algorithm to help people find beer they might like based on the way other Taps users have described the beers. The algorithm focuses on language familiar to those bewildered by the nomenclature that’s come to be associated with craft beer.
“In essence, you have a crowd-sourced description,” said Eric Martin, director of UR’s innovation and entrepreneurship program.
Creegan said the idea for Taps came from confusion over the ever-expanding selection of beers.
“With the beer aisle growing more and more, and a descriptive vocabulary nothing short of absurd, how can we find exactly what we are looking for?” Creegan said in an email. “The answer is as simple as creating a way to empower the everyday, conversational language that we use to describe any product.”
Martin said about 30 teams submitted ideas for this year’s pitch contest. A committee eventually whittled the field down to seven finalists. Creegan and the other finalists then made their final pitches to a panel of local business people.
Creegan and his teammate, Connecticut College senior Dillon Kerr, won $3,500 and a chance to pitch the idea to local angel investors. Taking second place and $1,000 were Eliza Breed and Brooke Wilson for their dating app called The Look. Killian McGiboney and his videography company Future By Drones placed third and took home $500.
Judges for the pitch event included Charles Merritt, CMO of Knox Payments; Kevin Passarello, COO of Pong Research Corp.; and Bryan Bostic, founder of 2B Technologies and Smartbox.
Martin said the Association for Corporate Growth sponsored the competition and provided the prize money.
Creegan said the prize money will be used to continue to refine Taps and attract customers to use it. The app is not yet currently available on the popular app stores for Apple or Android.
Last year’s overall winner was Lauren Grainger and her LineGuard idea for a fishing line accessory that prevents tangling.