After boarding a flight at RDU, senior Judy Zhu greeted her fellow classmates through the plane’s PA system. “Welcome Melissa & Doug fellows,” she said. “We’re going to pitch later, and we’re going to kick butt and take money.” And take money is what they did at the third annual Melissa & Doug Demo Day. This year, the stakes were higher than ever – for the first time, investors attended the event to hear students’ pitches and choose the company in which they’d like to invest.
Walla (formerly Genie)
A mobile app that allows users in the same location to meet up based on matching help requests.
Judy Zhu, Founder
Mechanical Engineering, 2017
Jon Buie, Android Developer
Peter Murphy, Business Lead
Masters of Engineering, 2017
Young-hoon Kim, Android Developer
Francia Fang, Marketing
Neuroscience, French, Chemistry, 2019
Brian Lin, Developer
Computer Science, 2018
Vivian Li, UI/UX Designer
Melody Iro, Marketing
Biomedical Engineering, 2018
Congratulations to the Walla team, led by Judy Zhu, for winning the Duke Startup Challenge! Walla began as an Innovation Co-Lab grant recipient, and has now launched and is available on both iOS and Android. To learn more about the app or to download, click here.
Judy Zhu founded Walla at Duke last year. A friend told her about the Co-Lab and the resources it offered for students running their own projects. She soon applied for the Co-Lab’s Innovation Grant. “The grant gave me the courage to start Walla. Receiving the Innovation Grant from the Co-Lab meant that someone believed that the idea could take off. Afterwards, we had meetings in the Co-Lab every single week.” Recently, they even laser cut Walla keychains in the Co-Lab. Judy hopes to use the prize from the Duke Startup Challenge to keep growing Walla until every student at Duke and other NC schools are using it. Judy has some final advice to those considering starting a project of their own, “If you have an idea, just go for it. There is never a ‘best time.’ The best time is now."
Prelaunch with PArts and PSearch on August 12
Launch at Duke on August 20
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