Chris McMeeking Wins Funding for ASK Interfaces through Intel Innovators Competition

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Chris McMeeking (left), with CS alum and business partner Jeff Miller (BSE CS 2003)

U-M CS undergrad Chis McMeeking has won $100,000 of funding for his business, ASK Interfaces, in the Facebook-based Intel Innovators competition. Chris received both of the competiton's prizes of $50,000 for his business plan presentation of his company's ASK Android Keyboard product.

The Android Keyboad product is an offshoot of a project Chris worked on last year with a group of five other U-M undergraduates.That project, ASK Messaging, was an iPad app that utilized a unique "assistive scanning keyboard" to help individuals with Cerebal Palsy or other fine motor skill disabilities to communicate independently. The assistive scanning keyboard technology treats the entire mobile device screen as a large button, allowing a user to make keyboard selections based on narrowing set of choices without having to press small buttons or controls.

Chis and his two business partners, U-M CS alum Jeff Miller and U-M MBA student Jackson Buell, are now developing a new version of the assistive scanning keyboard technology for use with the Android mobile operating system. This version, to be distributed as an app, operates as a service, making the company's input technology available across a range of apps already installed on the user's device. According to Chris, "Development limitations with iOS prevented us from creating a service that could be used across apps. With the new Android version, we are creating a solution that can be installed once and which will open a range of computing and communications services to users based on our novel interface."

Intel launched the Intel Innovators competition in December 2011 as a platform to give young entrepreneurs the opportunity to bring their innovative ideas to life. The platform is built on top of Intel’s Facebook community that allows entrepreneurs aged 18 to 24 in the US to share their business ideas, grow a fanbase, and receive realtime feedback. The program offers $100,000 each month to the best ideas to come out of its Facebook community.

To participate, entrepreneurs go to the Intel Facebook app, where they submit their ideas for startups. Once approved, they enter a large pool. A selection committee (made up of professors, executives, and entrepreneurs) selects the 20 best ideas for each round in the competition. Fans and entrepreneurs are given social capital (points) that they can invest in their favorite ideas. The five that receive the most capital move onto the final stage, where they do a live pitch to a panel of four judges (Chief Financial Officer of betaworks Joshua D. Auerbach, Managing Director Intel Capital’s Consumer Internet Sector Mike Buckley, SV Angel’s Topher Conway, and Collaborative Fund’s Craig Shapiro), who award their favorite idea with $50K. The top fan then gets to give the other $50K to their favorite finalist.

Chris made his pitch to the VCs and fan on January 27, and was selected the winner by both the panel and the fan. You can see his presentation in this YouTube video (Chris's pitch begins at about 18:35).

Related Material:

Adweek: Intel Innovators Campaign Funds Youth Startups

YouTube: Intel Innovators Round 2 Battlefield (Chris McMeeking's pitch is at about 18:30 mark.)

EECS Website, Nov. 9, 2011: ASK Applications Wins 2011 Student of da Vinci Award

Michigan Engineer, Jun. 8, 2011: ASK Messaging: An iPad app with a special touch

EECS Website, Mar. 8, 2011: ASK Applications Places First in Bay Area Entrepreneurial Experience Competition

EECS Website, Feb. 11, 2011: CS Students Take Second Place with iPad App at Mobile World Congress


Posted: February 3, 2012