Khione Outdoor Gear named 2017 Student Innovator of the Year

On Wednesday, March 15, seven finalists competed in the 2017 SIOY competition. The judges’ votes are in, and Khione Outdoor Gear has been named 2017 Student Innovator of the Year!

Over 35 teams competed throughout the year, and seven finalists were chosen at last week’s preliminary product showcase. Audience members gathered in the WSC Varsity Theatre to watch the teams' presentations, which were judged by members of the BYU Ira A. Fulton College Advancement Council for Engineering and Technology (ACET).

Khione Outdoor Gear won both first place and the crowd favorite award, taking home a total of $7,000 in prize money for their innovative product SHEL. SHEL is a lightweight hammock covering that uses heat transfer technology to keep campers warm while sleeping outdoors. Khione is led by mechanical engineering graduate students Casey Messick and Caleb Lystrup. Kristin McGuire, a junior in family consumer sciences education, and Andrew Pack, a student in the joint MBA/mechanical engineering program, also contributed to the project. 

The $3,000 second-place prize was awarded to ScanFactor. This software and app, designed to cut down on inefficiency at career fairs, allows users (recruiters and students) to share information quickly and easily using a QR code.

Third place and $2,000 in prize money was awarded to Aryv for their safe driving app. Aryv lets drivers earn points that can be redeemed at local businesses as an incentive to not use their phone while driving.

The runner-up title and $1,000 in prize money went to EXOPilot, the first VR remote motion simulation platform that allows people to experience a vehicle’s motion and lets them simulate driving or flying.

In addition to over $1,000 in audience giveaways, the event included updates from past SIOY participants PhoneSoap and KLŌS Guitars.

Since competing in SIOY and winning $1,000 six years ago, PhoneSoap has appeared on SharkTank, doubled its revenue yearly since 2013 and sold millions on QVC.

“It all started on this stage,” said Wesley LaPorte, PhoneSoap CEO. “Take advantage of this great opportunity you have here at BYU.”

Two years ago while in a mechanical engineering class, Ian Kloswiak had an idea for a durable carbon fiber travel guitar. He developed a prototype and entered it into SIOY. He later co-founded KLŌS Guitars, which recently finished its third Kickstarter campaign, raising more than $300,000.

“We had a prototype, but we didn’t have an established company and BYU helped us do that,” said Klosowiak. “I want to encourage everyone, if you have an idea, if you want to start a company, now is the time to do it. Now is the time to use all of your resources, apply to all these competitions and do everything you can. They’re going to direct you in the right way.”

Congratulations to all winners and participants who made it to the final round. For more information about the SIOY competition, visit The Student Innovator of the Year Competition is made possible by the Venture Factory club, and is sponsored by the BYU Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology and the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.

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