A diverse collection of students with big ideas will split about a hundred grand in prize money after competing in T-Mobile’s Changemaker Challenge. Now, $5,000-10,000 may not sound like a lot to companies pulling in tens of millions, but for a kid just starting out, it could be the difference between pursuing and abandoning a passion project.
The contest is nationwide, asking young folks age 13-18 to submit their project, company, or however they like to define it, and five each in three categories are awarded $5,000. A winner from each category gets an additional $5,000 plus a pitch-off with T-Mo brass, and a chance for a final $5,000 check. You’d think they would throw another five large out there to hit $100,000 even… maybe next year. (Update: The original total was $95,000, but T-Mobile noted that an additional $5,000 prize wasn’t mentioned in the release, and there are some other ones as well. So the total is a little more than originally stated and I’ve adjusted the above.)
There are plenty such competitions out there (last week was Microsoft’s Imagine Cup) and the ideas that surface in them are always refreshingly human in scale and intention.
Take the finalist MedTechConnect, for instance. Sounds like middleware for hospitals, but it’s two teenage cousins in Louisville who have now helped more than 2,000 senior citizens make vaccination and other healthcare appointments by walking them through the digital processes that might otherwise have puzzled them.
“Telehealth access is a basic human right. Solutions must be found, as telehealth will explode in the future… vulnerable people cannot be left behind,” they write. And they’re helping in a very hands-on way — volunteer work for the digital era, perhaps, but also just plain a good idea: a general “tech support for telehealth” for people who don’t have a savvy niece or nephew to consult on such things.
Just because folks like Jacqueline and Amelie aren’t yet quite at the Battlefield stage doesn’t mean we can’t applaud their initiative and insight. They do have one thing in common with many larger startups, however: a total lack of any plan for monetization. In this case however, that is probably a good thing.
Here’s the full list of finalists, by category with winners listed first (descriptions from T-Mo and the applicants themselves, links to their sweet little applications):
“Equity in Action”:
Some of these are pretty legit. Feel free to look me up when that pre-seed round hits, all.
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