“If I could use one word to describe what this week has been like and these students together, it’d be engaged,” said Mr. Evans, opening the assembly preceding DesignPitch, “You’re going to see a bunch of ideas this evening that are a product of global cooperation by these students.” Following Mr. Evans’s introduction, Collegiate graduates of the class of 2009, Drew Martin and Stephen Stites, set a theme for the evening of problem-solving innovation.
Drew Martin and Stephen Stites won both first place in Washington and Lee University’s business plan competition and an honorable mention in Virginia’s “Most Significant Market Disruptor” for their idea, called Watchdog. “We wanted to come up with a product that would impact a lot of people,” said Stephen Stites, introducing a smartphone-capable app which would help diabetics record and monitor their blood sugar without the bulk of a typical blood sugar monitor. “[Watchdog] looks to downsize, modernize, and humanize diabetic management for the 12 million smartphone users,” pitched Drew Martin. Not only would Watchdog record blood sugar levels, but the app would also produce timeline graphs, so that “For the first time, diabetics [could] say, ‘Huh, it looks like my blood sugar always spikes on Friday after lunch,’” explained Drew Martin.
However, Stephen Stites and Drew Martin’s Watchdog never actually went into production, but was rather a learning opportunity. Discussing the lessons learned through Watchdog, Stephen Stites said, “In thinking about [Watchdog] and working on it… [we learned Watchdog] was fundamentally different from all of the other schoolwork we had ever done… In doing this entrepreneurship project, we got to take a step back and think, ‘How did we learn these things?’… We got to apply [our knowledge gained in college] in a new way.” Continuing with the theme of differences between the “real world” and college, Drew Martin advised the Ambassadors, “It’s really important to specialize [in a single subject area]… [for] when you get to problems that are on such a big scale that they seem insurmountable, you need to specialize. You need to do what you’re good at.” Furthermore, Drew Martin reassured the entrepreneurial Emerging Leaders that “The world is changing so rapidly that there are many new problems every day… [And new problems mean new opportunities.”
Ending their speech, Stephen Stites and Drew Martin promised the Ambassadors after learning how to pitch an idea through Watchdog, “We feel like if an opportunity ever does come along, we’ll be ready to approach it; we’ll be ready to seize it, and so will you.”