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Case Western grads' award-winning software to help online sellers

Recent Case Western Reserve University mechanical engineering graduates Austin Schmidt and Solomon Alkhasov won the 2011 Idea Competition, sponsored by LaunchHouse and CSU's Accelerated MBA program at Nance College of Business. They created a company called Affinity Algorithms, which develops proprietary computer arbitrage software to facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers in various online marketplaces. The software provides greater liquidity and price transparency in the marketplaces.

"We are developing a suite of online software that helps the seller in fragmented marketplaces better manage inventory," explains Schmidt. Although Schmidt and Alkhasov came up with the idea from their experiences buying and selling textbooks in college, they say it can be applied to many online marketplaces.

The idea for Affinity Algorithms came about in January, they set up shop in March, and landed at LaunchHouse this month. They plan to roll out a full build of the software in September.

Students from all Northeast Ohio colleges and universities were invited to pitch a business concept to a panel of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, CSU faculty and LaunchHouse staff. The contest primarily focused on students who had innovative ideas in the fields of software and internet technology, low-tech medical devices and clean energy.

The second winner is Ronny Shalev, also a student at Case. Shalev created a product known as an autonomous intravenous (IV) insertion tool that will be the most effective replacement for the current procedure of manual vein localization and needle insertion. Shalev's tool will completely replace the need for trained medical staff.

Contest winners were each awarded a $2,500 scholarship to the Global AMBA program along with a prize basket of support services from LaunchHouse, "Additionally, we received a $500 check from LaunchHouse, along with a bunch of services that include legal services, accounting, and free space for three months," says Schmidt. "All in all, a very comprehensive package with everything needed to get a business off the ground."

The winners will also have the opportunity to compete for up to $5000 in follow on funding.

Source: Austin Schmidt, Affinity Algorithms
Writer: Karin Connelly

This story originally appeared in hiVelocity's sister publication Fresh Water Cleveland.

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