CEIE Student Kristine Mosuela Wins Funding at the Governor’s Transportation Conference Shark Tank Competition
November 9, 2016
In October 2016, Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne hosted the first ever Shark Tank: Transportation Edition! Competition as part of the Virginia Governor’s Transportation Conference. The Governor’s Conference Shark Tank was as set up much like the one many are familiar with from television: five leather chairs for sharks, a red rug for entrepreneurs pitching their ideas, and in between them an elegant coffee table.
In this Shark Tank, however, the entrepreneurs were made up exclusively of students from Virginia colleges and universities, and the sharks were public officials with up to $15,000 total to “offer” students. Each student entrepreneur had 3 minutes to pitch their transportation-related idea and 5 minutes for Q&A before the sharks were asked to make their offers.
Kristine Mosuela, one of the eight student entrpreneurs, who developed an app to incentivize biking was inspired by her own attempts to commute 8 miles to the Mason Fairfax campus.
“My idea is called Peloton, and it’s a mobile app that incentivizes bike riding,” said Kristine Mosuela. “Very simply, it’s like a credit card rewards program, but instead of getting points for purchases, you get points for bike riding.”
It started with a project in Professor Viviana Maggioni’s Environmental Engineering and Science course, where student teams were tasked with generating an environmentally-friendly invention. The idea was further developed in collaboration with another civil engineering student, Jared Keller (BS’16), during the annual Classroom2Makers Week seminar.
In the seminar, students learn about entrepreneurship and are mentored by various Mason professors. The seminar concludes with a week-long workshop inside the MIX@InnovationHall incubator space. Mosuela continued developing the design and researching the feasibility of launching the mobile app at Mason through an OSCAR Undergraduate Research Scholars Program grant.
“When I learned about the Shark Tank: Transportation Edition event, it seemed like a perfect fit," she said. "We could get some more funding for a working prototype, and I could also practice my pitching skills and get some feedback on the app design and business model.”
The ideas proposed for the Virginia Governor’s Transportation Conference’s first-ever Shark Tank ranged from a dynamic car charging technology pitched by a PhD student at Virginia Tech to a safe ride home program pitched by a Tidewater Community College student. Each of the sharks had $3,000 and eight contestants to consider. Mosuela’s idea won one of the top three largest prizes, with an offer of $1000 from Deputy Secretary of Transportation Grindly Johnson and $500 from Secretary of Education Dietra Trent.
A version of this story appeared on civil.gmu.edu.