By: Grace Zhang | June 28, 2020

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This year’s Diamond Challenge Summit was certainly one for the books. Amidst the COVID pandemic, we were so proud to see so many innovative and inspiring ventures from teams all over the world. Our judges were certainly impressed by the pool of talent, and this year’s winners truly stood out, showcasing their ingenuity and creativity.

The Diamond Challenge is split up into two tracks: the Business Innovation Track and the Social Innovation Track. Competitors who choose the Social Innovation Track are judged based on an equal weighting of feasibility, sustainability, social impact and taking “wow factor” into consideration. Social impact refers to “the extent to which an organization’s actions have a positive effect on beneficiaries and the surrounding community or environment.” Read on to find out more about our 2020 Social Innovation Track winners!

First Place Winner: Exoheal

Follow ExoHeal on Instagram here!

Team Members: Faria Zubair, Zain Samdani

Venture Description: ExoHeal utilizes neuroplasticity and robotics to help patients with hand paralysis recover 30% faster.

What was the inspiration behind your idea?

“Our Uncle suffered from hand paralysis. He was unable to perform simple tasks and his eyes were always filled with hopelessness. When we visited rehabilitation centers, we saw the same look in the eyes of so many individuals. Upon extensive research, we realized that the current rehabilitation devices and services were time-consuming, psychologically strenuous and expensive–costing upwards of 10,000 dollars! These problems inspired us to develop an affordable and fast hand paralysis rehabilitation system. We also noticed patients often had to travel long-distances for their rehabilitation sessions. This was both time-consuming and expensive. To tackle this, we’ve developed an app that acts as a means of communication between the doctor and the patient. This enables the doctor to guide and monitor the progress of various patients while allowing the patient to comfortably use the device at home.” – Zain Samdani

What was your team’s greatest challenge and how did you all overcome it?

“Our team’s greatest challenge was collaborating effectively during this pandemic. We lived in different countries while working together on the project. However, due to the lockdowns everywhere, I wasn’t able to travel and we had to tackle the difference in our time zones and work simultaneously on different parts of the project. We overcame this difficulty by setting up proper routines and achievable goals that we could individually accomplish every day. Effective planning is key!” – Zain Samdani

What was your Diamond Challenge experience like?

“Throughout this journey, we’ve learned so much about the comprehensive yet exciting process of developing and pitching our idea to unleash its full potential. The Diamond Challenge lives up to its name as it positively challenged us as young aspiring entrepreneurs to work hard towards building our startup. Its intuitive judge feedback system allowed us to identify crucial aspects of our product and improve upon them. We’ve grown to understand the sheer importance of expert advice through the various meet-ups.” – Zain Samdani

How did your Diamond Challenge experience impact your trajectory/future plans? Did the Summit change your plans or goals?
“The Diamond Challenge had quite an influential impact on our plans for the future. It helped us understand the right narrative to approach our venture with, such as the importance of establishing a long-lasting sense of human connection and keeping customers in mind. The Summit helped us further solidify and adapt our plans to reach out to the global market. Throughout the Diamond Challenge process, I’ve come to once again realize the importance of the work I and my team have been doing: Our main objective is to help those in need as soon as possible.” – Zain Samdani
What advice would you give to someone who is preparing for the Summit?

“I believe that each and every one of us has the potential to use our ability to help humanity. So, make sure you never stop asking questions because you never know what wonders lie ahead! I would encourage everyone to learn and study existing startups and their journeys to success. The mentoring sessions in the Diamond Challenge are extremely valuable, hence, be prepared with all your doubts and questions. Pitch your ideas to those in the industry to get constructive criticism. Most important of all, believe in yourself and your idea!” – Zain Samdani

 

Second Place Winner: InGeniusLearn

Check out their website here!

Follow InGeniusLearn on Instagram here!

Team Members: Andrew Tran, Rayan Yu

Venture Description: inGeniusLearn is a comprehensive software application that hyper-personalizes education. It uses novel artificial intelligence methods to detect student confusion real-time and provide immediate feedback.

What was the inspiration behind your idea?

“Our team’s connection to the global educational crisis is more than personal. After volunteering in my father’s hometown in rural China, I was able to witness the struggles of students worldwide – They lacked textbooks, teachers and even basic supplies. With my partner Andrew attending a school with over 65% of students on the free/reduced lunch program, we shared an insight on how the lack of quality education affected students on a local and global scale. We wanted to use our abilities to bring personal, accessible education to students both here in our communities and across the world.” – Rayan Yu

What was your Diamond Challenge experience like?

“My Diamond Challenge experience was unforgettable. From the beginning, pitching in front of judges at the regional pitching round made me a sharper candidate for success and allowed me to look at growth from all angles. In an unlikely turn of events, COVID-19 forced my partner and I to adapt to unprecedented times and prove that innovation never stops – especially in a time of crisis. Altogether, I enjoyed building relationships with like-minded individuals and sharpening my skills as an entrepreneur.” – Andrew Tran

What was it like meeting new people from different backgrounds and various countries?

“I found it to be a great opportunity to expand my network and connect with like-minded individuals whom I may collaborate with in the future. The simple exchange of ideas led to long-lasting relationships that made me realize one thing: The greatest asset you can have is to build meaningful relationships with others. No technical skill can surpass this fundamental asset because in the end, it’s about the value you bring to people.” – Andrew Tran

What was your team’s greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?

“Our greatest challenge was our intra-team conflict. As two headstrong and determined individuals, our team experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. When our ideas and abilities connected, we made exponential progress, finishing work at ridiculous rates. When our mindsets clashed and our visions shifted, we were set back on days, weeks even, butting each other to find a solution. Eventually, as we both came to recognize the pattern of our progress, our solution came from speeding up the process. While we recognized the impossibility of amiability on every front, we recognized the twofold ability for us to communicate our concerns on every front, allowing each and every conflict to be resolved in a more timely fashion.” – Rayan Yu

What does your future look like? What are your future goals and plans for your team and your venture?

“Our future with inGeniusLearn is primed to launch. As our organization has recently achieved 501(c)3 nonprofit status, we seek to introduce our product as soon as possible to begin to make a change. Although hindered by the current pandemic, our team’s plans of test-drive are to be initiated sometime in the upcoming school year, a breakthrough opportunity for local services and students to experience our product for the first time. Our goal for our venture is simple: As a team seeking to make a social impact, if we even improve a single student’s life by easing his or her access to quality education, we have achieved what we set out to do.” – Rayan Yu

What advice would you give to someone who is preparing for the Summit?

“The greatest investment you can make is an investment into yourself. In this ultra-competitive world, it seems that your idea pales in comparison to the Jeff Bezos’s or Mark Zuckerberg’s of the world. But what people fail to realize is that they were once like you. It takes one person, one dream and one extra investment in yourself to make your dream turn into reality and before you know it, you could be a international changemaker. Don’t be afraid to fail, because it takes just one success to be the change you want to see in this world.” – Andrew Tran

 

Third Place Winner: EZ Water

Team Members: Adan Tanveer, Hasham Tanveer, Parsa Sohail, Sheeza Tanveer

Follow EZ Water on Instagram here!

Venture Description: EZ Water aims to develop a hyperlocal, off-grid and reliable bottled water brand which will empower the communities it operates in, while also being the only company in Pakistan that will be offering electricity-free water purification technology that is gravity-based filtration.

What was the inspiration behind your idea?

“Despite being raised in a privileged environment in Pakistan, I’ve never let myself turn a blind eye over the issues that Pakistani women face being in an unprivileged environment. I’ve put my feet in their shoes in order to solve the challenges they face every day, aiming to change their lives through an innovation that not only empowers women but also provides safe drinking water to the rural areas of Pakistan. Being self-dependent and self-motivated, my dream has always been to see women stand on their feet changing the world in every way possible. With the help of my wonderful team; Adan, Sheeza and our mentors Usama and Shayan, I was able to make the dream a reality. Working under the mentorship of the excellent membrane and product engineers, we have put together a solution that can save the lives of people by providing them safe drinking water while encouraging women empowerment.” – Parsa Sohail

What was your Diamond Challenge experience like?

“It was a journey of building self-confidence within ourselves. Learning to step out of comfort zones and achieve my goals, Diamond challenge has empowered me in different ways, helping me grow my ambitions strongly towards my future goals.” – Parsa Sohail

What was your team’s greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?
“As the co-founders of EZ Water, we have experienced life in the regions that our business is aiming to target. As part of the extremely patriarchal society of Pakistan, we understand what steps we can take to empower the women of our community. We understand the work restrictions and prejudice that women face here, and the societal pressures that can force her to leave a job. Thus, as a team of females ourselves and as a team that sincerely believes in the vision of lifting others through empowerment, we were able to overcome these challenges and bring about a positive change in our society. Through our inclusive entrepreneurship, we will not only solve the shortage of clean drinking water but will also empower families through supplemental income.” – Adan Tanveer
What does your future look like? What are your future goals and plans for yourself and your venture?
“We are a team of science enthusiasts who believe in the power of innovation to change the world. We believe in bringing solutions to life that have the potential to enable communities around the globe to advance the agenda of sustainable development. EZ Water aims to change the lives of 80 million Pakistanis who lack access to safe drinking water. Water available in Pakistan is either expensive or the quality of the water provided by the municipality from the government is highly compromised. We are empowering the people living in poverty to clean water for themselves as well as generate a supplemental income to support their families by selling affordable clean drinking water to their communities. We are coming with a new approach to monetize the water purification system by associating it with a value. The ultimate goal is to help change the world by ending unemployment in the remote areas.” – Adan Tanveer
What advice would you give to someone who is preparing for the Summit?
“I would suggest they step out of their comfort zones. They should stay determined and passionate towards their goals, knowing that learning is the key to success and failure only follows your way once you stop trying. As long as we are determined to try our best knowing that we can achieve anything, then failing will only be a step towards growing stronger and learning to overcome challenges in order to succeed.” – Parsa Sohail
We are so proud of all our finalists and wish them success in all their future endeavors. Good luck!

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No matter where our Diamond Challenge alumni go, we are constantly amazed by how they continue to make an impact on the world for the better.

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About Horn Entrepreneurship

Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the University of Delaware’s creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement. Built and actively supported by successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders, Horn Entrepreneurship empowers aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs as they pursue new ideas for a better world.

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