USI-Crane partnership manager placed first at Startup Weekend

Ariana Beedie

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Andrew Moad, USI-Crane Partnership Manager led his team to victory at Startup Weekend Feb. 24, by marketing the idea of Fence Chips.

The innovative idea of “Fence Chips” was passed on by inventor Jeff Snow, an owner of many patents from the Crane Naval Station.

Instead of using Styrofoam cups to place in chain-link fences, Fence Chips are small vinyl tiles, made to fit chain link fences for advertising purposes, which is better for the environment.

Snow gave Moad the patent to attempt to find funding around the Evansville area.

“I talked to several people in town, and I really didn’t get much energy behind it on my first approach,” Moad said.

Moad wanted to participate in Startup Weekend but did not have any other ideas. He decided to enter the idea of “Fence Chips” into the competition. During the first day of Startup Weekend, Moad met his teammate Joshua Gass, who didn’t initially have a team.

“I noticed right away he had some skills,” Moad said. “He was good with people. He presented himself very well. When his idea fell through, he joined my team that first night.”

Moad and Gass worked hard those next few days to come up with the perfect business plan for “Fence Chips.”

During the 54-hour weekend, business experts otherwise known as “coaches” helped facilitate brainstorming for each team.

The final day of the competition marked the time for teams to present their final product, a detailed business plan of how much their team needs to make their idea a reality. Each team got a five minute limit to present before a panel of prominent figures in Evansville who were the judges.

Moad and Gass created a powerpoint presentation declaring the differences in their product and the competition. Little did they know, they would place first.

“It’s kinda funny, I didn’t think we would win,” Moad said. “I want to help USI students. By picking up Joshua, I can help him grow this into a business.”

The whole experience of Startup Weekend is to validate the business model, he said.

The second place winners, “Team StrapHolster” also had a creative invention, a device that keeps purses from sliding from a person’s shoulder, including magnets and silicone grip.

“I came up with the idea for StrapHolster by trial and error,” Team leader Neil Kassinger said. “By researching what people liked and what people didn’t like.”

Team StrapHolster consists of Junior Advertising major Neil Kassinger and junior marketing major Cecelia Gussman.

“While we ended up being perfect teammates, I barely knew her before the competition,” Kassinger said.

Team StrapHolster filed a provisional patent to protect their invention.

“It can be easily replicated,” Kassinger said. “I wanted the company to have another option for revenue.”

The best part of Startup Weekend was the professional advice, he said.

“Working with professionals is eye opening,” Kassigner said. “You are able to connect with them at the competition and most are willing to meet you later after the event to help you even further.”

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