DALI Lab and DEN host termly show The Pitch

by Sunpreet Singh | 11/4/16 12:44am

On Thursday night, the Digital Arts, Leadership, and Innovation lab and DEN hosted their “Shark Tank” style entrepreneurial show, The Pitch, in Filene Auditorium from 7 to 9 p.m. 

Nineteen total groups participated, with four winning groups selected: BASIIC, Seabird Apps, The Life You Can Lead You Game and ClearPay Healthcare. 

Ballots were given out to audience members before the pitches began for each audience member to pick his or her top three pitches to be considered for the People’s Choice Award, which was awarded to ClearPay Healthcare. 

Each winning group receives funding from DEN and development assistance from the DALI lab, with third place receiving $1,000, second place receiving $2,000, first place receiving $3,000, and the People’s Choice Award also receiving $2,000. 

A panel of six judges, consisting of a mix of Dartmouth students and alumni, gathered during a 20 minute intermission to decide the best three pitches. The judges based their decisions on criteria including how relevant and cool the pitch ideas were, their potential impact, feasibility and the quality of the pitches themselves. 

Each group was allotted two minutes for their pitches, describing how they would use the funds to develop their ideas.

Prior to The Pitch, each group participated in “The Pitch Clinic,” a workshop to prepare their pitches and flesh out how they would use the DEN funds and DALI Lab resources. 

First place winner The Life You Can Lead You Game is an online game that allows users to receive virtual points for doing community service, with the greatest amount of points given for serving specific causes. Users can virtually experience a lifetime in a service-related career, after which the user’s character dies and is reincarnated in proportion to how many people they reached through their service and donations. 

James Drain ’17, the creator of the game, recently founded Dartmouth’s Effective Altruism Club, which he described as “created to show people some of the world’s best charities, whose effectiveness is sometimes up to 700 times better than that of normal charities.” He provided the example of the Against Malaria Foundation, which he said has been rated as the best charity in the world. 

The game also plans to develop an “animal reincarnation” mode. 

“For every dog and cat killed in the U.S., 70 land animals are slaughtered in factory farms,” Drain said.  “I want the game to help people learn about the evils of factory farming.” 

Drain intends to use the funds from DEN to hire developers for the game as well as researchers to study the lives of the people affected. He also plans to use DALI Lab’s expertise to develop the best platform and language for the game. 

The People’s Choice Award Winner, ClearPay Healthcare, is an app that helps individuals avoid surprise medical bills and increases transparency by sorting healthcare providers according to costs and allowing patients to pay upfront rather than waiting weeks for medical bills. 

David Washer, the co-founder and CEO of ClearPay Healthcare, is a doctoral and MBA candidate at the Geisel School of Medicine and Tuck School of Business respectively. 

ClearPay Healthcare will be using the funds to launch a local pilot at Dartmouth to give back to the support from DALI, DEN and the Dartmouth community, Washer said. He added that “students may face high deductibles on the school’s health plan, so it can help the community a lot to better understand their healthcare and to test the feasibility of the movement.” 

Washer also said that receiving the People’s Choice Award was especially meaningful.

“It shows that people really are fed up with being burned by surprising medical bills and spiraling healthcare costs,” he said. “We see this as a movement against an expensive healthcare system to improve people’s experiences with healthcare and billing.” 

Seabird Apps, which aggregates various student accounts like DASH, Canvas and DBA, won second place. The developers will be using the prize money and DALI Lab support to expand to other schools and flesh out the backend of the app itself. 

Sean Cann ’17, CEO and co-founder of Seabird Apps, said the prize will allow Seabird to expand its partnerships with local businesses to provide students with more discounts, such as a recent one with Domino’s Pizza that gives students at the College a 15 percent discount with the promotional code DART.

In addition to the prize money, winners also receive personal support from DEN advisors, said Eileen O’Toole, the program manager at DEN and the DEN director of The Pitch. However, she added, regardless of who wins, every group receives valuable feedback and skills that they can apply in the future. 

“The Pitch creates a culture of people coming up with creative ideas and pitching them to foster creativity among students, doctors, staff, faculty and whoever wishes to take their ideas to the next level,” said Lori Loeb, the executive director and co-founder of the DALI Lab. She added that winning groups are able to jump the queue for DALI support on their projects.

This fall’s Pitch was the ninth one held. Two more Pitch events will be held in the winter and spring terms. 

Cann is a former member of The Dartmouth Staff.

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