The 2021 Jones Idea Challenge: Innovation for Impact

March 4, 2021

On Wednesday, March 3, 2021, sixteen student teams participating in the Jones Idea Challenge pitched their ‘intra-preneurial’ ideas to 60 people in attendance including 16 student-led teams, 8 company judges, students, coaches, and community members.

In its second year, the Jones Idea Challenge is a competition for undergraduate entrepreneurial-driven students. It challenges them to solve real company problems by working with a team business coach and compete for $5,000 in cash prizes. In the end, the program produces innovative student solutions for real business problems.

The Jones Idea Challenge is funded by the Herbert B. Jones Foundation, which also supports other IEC programs, including the Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition and the Jones Progress Awards. 

Eight companies, including Weyerhaeuser, AnuLife, Votegrity, MODICA, The Madrone School, Discovery Health MD, React Mobile, and Mindhatch, pitched their real-world corporate problems along the theme of ‘Innovation for Impact.’ Undergraduate students from the Albers School of Business and Economics, the College of Science and Engineering, and the College of Arts & Science formed teams and selected a problem to tackle. Each team was then personally matched with a local professional volunteer to create an innovative solution.   

Alejandro Ramirez (Team AR) won first prize for his solution to The Madrone School’s reverse pitch problem. The Madrone School is a private, nonprofit that provides therapeutic and educational services to children with autism. The company’s challenge was to understand the feasibility of purchasing an existing building or to rent a larger building so that they can have all staff and children at one location with room to grow. Also, how will this affect their finances and when is it smart to make a move to a single location? Team AR designed a solution that connected the resources of the community to the needs of the students with autism. The solution also recognizes how closely-knit the community is, and opens the door for corporate sponsorship of impactful initiatives.


Team AR: Alejandro Ramirez  

Coached by Tim Sipiora 


Team G&G: Whitney Garner & Cymran Giri 

 Coached by Richard Jacroux  


Team AnuWorld: Adi Rao & Ezequiel Vergara 

Coached by Timothy Hicks 

From team coaches, students, and companies, there are many people essential for the Jones Idea Challenge to be successful. The Albers Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center would like to thank the team coaches who provided invaluable leadership and guidance to the teams: Brien Kennedy, Mark Orzech, Nalin Chuapetcharasopon, Timothy Hicks, Kathryn Gardow, Joe Vogel, Shamim Mohandessi, Tim Sipiora, Claire Dillow, Alex Andrade-Walz, Rob Nielsen, Richard Jacroux, Patrick Smith, DeWon Tarpley, Sam Mwangi, and Matt Johnson.  

2021 Jones Idea Challenge Participating Teams 


  • Team Name: Team Members (Team Coach) 


  • Nick & Fabio: Nick Chang & Fabio Fu (Brien Kennedy) 


  • Anuway: Michael Ross & Zhen Zhang (Mark Orzech) 
  • JP & Miguel: JP Newmann & Miguel Mereles (Nalin Chuapetcharasopon) 
  • AnuWorld: Adi Rao & Ezequiel Vergara (Timothy Hicks) 


  • Vote Virtual: Ava Delanty & Maria Esteban (Kathryn Gardow) 


  • Yoshi: Harvey Lewis (Joe Vogel) 
  • Mech Minds: Erika Sue & Mitchell Soohoo (Shamim Mohandessi) 

The Madrone School 

  • AR: Alejandro Ramirez (Tim Sipiora) 
  • DJ Solutions: David Krohn & Jacob Zeigler (Claire Dillow) 

Discovery Health MD 

  • Apollo: Jaidev Vella (Alex Andrade-Walz) 

React Mobile 

  • Ben2: Latifa Ben Awadh & Benjamin Stuart (Rob Nielsen) 
  • G&G: Whitney Garner & Cymran Giri (Richard Jacroux) 
  • RBSP: Shweta Parajuli & Ruvim Burich (Patrick Smith) 


  • Golden Egg: Quynh Nguyen (DeWon Tarpley) 
  • Nash & Tovi: Nash Ventura & Tovi Eckford-Prossor (Sam Mwangi) 
  • MKit: Muping Shi & Kami Yang (Matt Johnson) 

All the student teams pitches can be viewed here.