Line-skipping business takes top honors at UW-Madison innovation competition

April 17, 2018 By Sam Million-Weaver

Selected from among 35 student teams and student-led start-up companies, LineLeap received the $15,000 Qualcomm grand prize in the 2018 Transcend Madison Innovation Competition, held April 4 and 5 on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus.

LineLeap, which allows users of its website, lineleap.com, to bypass big crowds waiting to enter popular nightclubs — akin to the “fastpass” made popular at Disney parks — is helmed by Max Schauff, a junior studying biological and machinery systems engineering.

Transcend Engineering is a student organization devoted to building community among budding entrepreneurs at UW–Madison, and providing resources for new companies to help grow their ideas. The group hosts social get-togethers and educational workshops throughout the fall and spring semesters, in addition to the marquee innovation competition now in its third year.

“The Transcend Engineering student organization exists, in part, to connect people — not only here on the UW–Madison campus, but also with entrepreneurs and professionals in Madison and beyond. This is an amazing support network rich with resources,” says Ian Robertson, dean of UW–Madison’s College of Engineering.

Some of those entrepreneurs and professionals were judges in the innovation competition, and selecting winners from among the varied and high-quality entries was no easy task.

“I saw so many great presentations, and I would hire any one of you,” judge Chandra Miller Fienen, director of operations and programs at Starting Block Madison, told competitors during the April 5 awards ceremony.

The competition offers tracks for both “immature,” or early-stage, and mature, or “main-stage” ideas, giving companies at all stages of the start-up process an opportunity to hone their pitches and receive feedback from expert judges. Some competitors displayed early-stage prototypes at the event, whereas other teams laid out their plans for growing companies that already had some initial market traction.

Judges evaluated all participants based on the creativity of their ideas, the implementation of those ideas as a prototype, the viability of their business model, and the execution of meaningful steps toward bringing their product or service to market.

“I’m incredibly proud of the risks you all have taken and the challenges you’ve overcome,” Lori Berquam, UW–Madison vice provost for student life and dean of students, said at the award ceremony. “What you’ve done is embraced and embarked on your own Wisconsin experience.”

Transcend contest sponsors include Qualcomm, Boldt, BayCare Clinic, Capital One, QBE, Singlewire Software, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Design Concepts, Capital Entrepreneurs, Transcend alumni, UW–Madison College of Engineering and Starting Block Madison.

Winning entries were:

Main Stage

First Prize ($15,000): LineLeap, a fast-pass for nightclubs that allows users to bypass big crowds, now available in 11 cities.

Second Prize ($10,000): SafeRotation, a device for diabetics to minimize bruising complications while self-administering insulin injections.

Third Prize ($8,000): Pathogenomica, a DNA-squence-based method for rapidly identifying bacterial outbreaks in water and the food-supply chain.

Best Prototype ($3,000): AtriAmp, a device to improve cardiac arrhythmia diagnosis by providing continuous, real-time monitoring of post-operative patients.

Best Pitch ($3,000): HaulTalk, an online platform for creating fashion content and helping creators monetize their media.

Best Business Brief ($3,000): EnerGyan, an education platform for teaching high school and college students about power grids and renewable energy.

Social Entrepreneurship ($3,000): NovoMoto, a system for bringing solar power to homes and communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Early Stage

Best Prototype ($1,000): Early Detection of Central Line Infections

Best Pitch ($1,000): Portable Tissue Company

Best Business Brief ($1,000): Hospital Acquired Infection Database

Social Entrepreneurship ($1,000): TurnIt

Additional Awards

Best Poster or Booth ($3,000): BrewBar, a nutritious granola and snack bar made from spent brewery grains.

Fan Favorite ($2,000): ZeroBarrier, which makes metal 3D printers.