LavaLab Demo Night showcases student innovations

LavaLab hosted  Demo Night, where seven student startup groups gathered to pitch product ideas to their peers and a panel of industry professional judges, on Monday evening.

Founded in 2013, LavaLab is USC’s product design incubator that fosters student collaborations. Each semester, students are placed in groups that bring their innovative ideas to reality. From hosting respected innovators as guest speakers to providing classes on how to build a pitch, LavaLab provides opportunities for students to exercise their full creativity.

The event started promptly at 7 p.m., and the seven student startups were given three minutes each to pitch ideas. Consequently, they were required to man booths that showcased their product. These ideas were unique, but each catered toward the needs of college students, from professional networking to essay editing.

The first group, Memoire, focused their project on improving mental health on campus. The product encourages self-reflection and allows users to reflect on their day by asking them short questions through emojis. By digitizing and expediting the journaling process, Memoire provides an incentive for students to express their feelings in a healthy way.

Peerval, the second startup, is an online essay-editing platform that allows students to upload their essays and receive quality feedback from peers who have taken the same class in the past. While there are other essay-editing platforms that already exist, Peerval ensured that students receive helpful feedback at a reasonable price.

Gear Up, the third startup, aimed to address students’ needs for items they would potentially use only once. Gear Up allows students to rent out a variety of items, ranging from outdoor equipment to electronics. The project hoped to create a sustainable network on campus that encourages students to do more, but own less.

Grapevine plays on the popular food delivery services USC students use and combines all major services around Los Angeles to provide the user with relevant delivery information. The app showcased the service with the fastest delivery time and cheapest fees at any given moment. The Grapevine team hoped that their product can help students cut costs on food and allocate their spending toward other student necessities.

In a product that assists USC students with advice about their future professions, Hive connects students with alumni who have graduated with similar majors. The product fosters a mentor-mentee relationship between current students and alumni, who will be able to answer questions students have about their career path while expanding their professional network.

Sweep provides a useful solution for messy computer desktops by promoting a simple and easy way to sort files. This app marks files in the computer by due date and time, and sorts files according to the class or date saved. Sweep also has the ability to position files onto the desktop based on location, making it easier for students to find the files they need for different classes.

The last product, Rhythm, is a wearable technology that strives to help users distance themselves from electronics and social media. The product lets users screen the important notifications they truly need. Using customized vibrations to signify different notifications from different apps or people, Rhythm informs the user of the type of notification they receive without requiring the user to look at any screen.

After half an hour of voting by both the audience and the judges, Peerval was voted the crowd favorite, while Rhythm impressed the judges with a working prototype.

Liam Maddox, a freshman majoring in arts, technology and the business of innovation and one of the creators of Rhythm, had nothing but appreciation for the opportunity LavaLab presented his team.

“I think LavaLab presents a really engaging community for its members,” Maddox said. “The relationships you build and the feedback you get from others really is invaluable. For me that meant being supported by my team and being able to reach out for critique and advice from others, which is so important to growing as a student within any discipline.”