2014 MasterCard Innovation Express
MasterCard Competition Generates Innovative Ideas from Cornell Students
With 48 hours to develop a new product for MasterCard that would appeal to millennials, four teams of students from across Cornell converged on Sage Hall to create a prototype of their idea, a business plan, and a video demo in an intense competition that was held recently.
MasterCard has run new product challenges throughout the world during the past four years. However, the Innovation Express at Johnson was the first to be held at a university. The company sent staff from their innovation division, MasterCard Labs, from Dublin, St. Louis, and Purchase, N.Y., to be integrated members of the teams, as they developed their prototypes and business plans.
After hearing the team presentations, a four-judge panel, including representatives from Cornell and MasterCard, awarded the "Pay It Forward" team with the first prize. Pay It Forward was made up of eight members, including MBA students, undergraduates majoring in computer science and math, and two employees from MasterCard Labs. Together, they created a platform called Reward.ing, which enables young people to support charitable causes and launch their own fundraising campaigns. The winning team members were awarded $1,000 MasterCard prepaid gift cards and iPad Minis.
Derek Shimozawa, MS CS '05, MBA '14, said he thought of the idea a few months ago after organizing the Class of 2014 campaign for Johnson using an Excel spreadsheet and e-mail blasts. "I found that process really archaic and difficult," Shimozawa said. "When MasterCard came to us and gave us the challenge to come up with a solution that appealed to students and young professionals, I really looked to my own experience for inspiration."
At the close of the presentations on Sunday, the audience was invited to vote via text message for the People's Choice winner. The "Level Up" team was recognized with this award for a product that helps students with budgeting and creates an alternative credit score.
Kim Purcell, vice president for Innovation Management at MasterCard Labs, said the competition is part of "a broader relationship" the company is building with Johnson. "Technology is such an important part of our day-to-day lives, and it's key to have people thinking about what's needed and what's next in this space," said Purcell, adding that events like the Innovation Express at Cornell are great ways to help students channel their talents and enthusiasm to address real-world challenges.