Business inventory app idea wins Judson 'Shark Tank' competition

A software application to help small businesses assess their inventory in about a minute or less became the winning pitch at Judson University's second "CREATE Shark Tank" entrepreneurial competition Thursday.

Judson senior Ethan Adams, of Springfield, and junior Zachary Conover, of Smyrna, Tennessee, creators of the Tag. me app, earned the top prize of $1,000. Adams and Conover also were selected by the audience as fan favorites.

"Our idea takes the inventory management system of large retailers and scales it down into a simple and intuitive mobile phone app built specifically for small retailers," said Adams, who is majoring in communications, marketing and management at Judson. "It focuses on helping small businesses with bar code generation, labeling, and product inventory without the expenses of inventory management hardware."

CREATE 2015 - a yearlong initiative that brought to Judson a series of business leaders and workshops and included the "Shark Tank" competition - was also Adams' brainchild.

Judson alumnus George Heller and his Phoenix FireStrike Industries team won the inaugural Judson "Shark Tank" competition in April, taking home the $1,000 grand prize for their automated home fire suppressant system. Another "Shark Tank" idea for an on-campus fair-trade store by Judson student Briana Williams of Plainfield was realized this week. Williams' Just World Goods store opened Friday in Lindner Tower at Judson's Elgin campus.

Five Judson students pitched ideas in Thursday's competition before a panel of judges vying for three prizes.

Junior Stephanie Kleczynski, a marketing major from Huntley, placed second for her University Quick Step Band. She earned $500.

Rebekah Tabb, a senior marketing major from Lebanon, Missouri, took the third-place prize of $250 for her Event Connections app.

Five local entrepreneurs served as judges:

• Nate Chang - Teaches accounting and finance at Judson and is the finance director for Goodcity, a social entrepreneur incubator with more than 50 startups and a subsidiary of the competition's main sponsor - Re: source Global.

• Ben Glunz - Founder and CEO of Anguleris Technologies and co-founder of Judson's on-campus coffee shop, Jerry's Café. He is a 2010 Judson graduate and chair of the Judson Alumni Association.

• Gene Salvadalena - executive director of Home of the Sparrow, which helps homeless women and their children in McHenry become self-sufficient.

• Kay Teeter - An independent senior sales director with Mary Kay Cosmetics who also chairs the Business Development Commission and was a Carpentersville village trustee for 10 years.

• Seth Temko - An entrepreneur, marketer and technologist. He has been involved in or advised more than 20 startups and judged the first "Shark Tank" competition.

A panel of judges comprising experienced entrepreneurs from for-profit and nonprofit sectors picked the winners of Judson University's "Shark Tank" entrepreneurial competition Thursday in Elgin. COURTESY OF JUDSON UNIVERSITY/CHARIS GIBBS
Ethan Adams and Zachary Conover won the grand prize in Judson University's "Shark Tank" entrepreneurial competition Thursday in Elgin. COURTESY OF JUDSON UNIVERSITY/CHARIS GIBBS
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