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Student team wins $30,000 to turn drone into flying selfie camera in Colorado College competition

February 22, 2017 Updated: February 22, 2017 at 8:01 pm
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photo - The Colorado College logo shown Tuesday, February 9, 2016, on banners hung near Cutler Hall on the CC campus. (Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette)
The Colorado College logo shown Tuesday, February 9, 2016, on banners hung near Cutler Hall on the CC campus. (Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette) 

A team of Colorado College students that are developing a drone that they hope will turn a user's smartphone into a flying "selfie" camera to photograph athletes and outdoor enthusiasts in remote locations landed the $30,000 first prize Wednesday in Colorado College's Big Idea business plan competition.

FlyPhone plans to use the cash to continue development of its drone and software and begin field testing the device "to get it into the hands of drone specialists and athletes to continue research and design to make sure we will be producing a product that people want and not what we want," said Ben Tweedy, one of six CC seniors working on the project.

"We want to be the next GoPro," he said.

Chica Chocolate, which is making chocolate truffles infused with Chinese herbal remedies that will be delivered on a subscription basis to women to ease their monthly menstrual and hormone cycles, won the $10,000 second prize the company will use to rent kitchen space in Boulder, buy ingredients and for marketing, said Cassidy Lam, who is working with a University of Colorado student on the project.

Ogugu, which is developing a subscription-based mobile business analytics platform to help owners of very small businesses in Tanzania with inventory management, bookkeeping, operations reporting and forecasting, finished third and also got $10,000 it will use to register with the Tanzanian government, expand into Malawi and recruit more sales personnel, said John Roy Ballossini Dommett, one of two CC students on that project.

FlyPhone and Chica Chocolate will advance to the Rockies Venture Club University Startup Challenge March 21 at Denver University, where they will pitch their plans to venture capital funds and angel investors to land investments. A team from the Air Force Academy finished second in last year's competition, which also included teams from CC, Pikes Peak Community College and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

The Big Idea competition, now in its fifth year, is designed to promote innovation and entrepreneurship among CC's 2,000 students. The competition began in December with 17 teams. The five finalists made presentations Wednesday to a panel of five judges, all CC alumni.

The other finalists were Spindle, which received $5,000 last year for finishing third in the competition to develop its plan of using pulsating tones from devices implanted in a mask that fits over the user's eyes to promote deeper sleep and improve memory retention; TREEhouse, which is developing treehouse retreats from materials collected onsite to promote forest health and help guests see the world from the perspective of a tree.

King of the Sea won $25,000 last year to create a market for the ecologically destructive lionfish.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

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