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Students’ parking app idea takes first place at Liberty’s annual Create Fest

Austin Demorata-Braza and Andrew Farquhar took home first place at the Create Fest with their invention Wize Park. (Photos by Jacob Summersgill)


Liberty University’s Center for Entrepreneurship in the School of Business hosted the annual Create Fest on Friday in the Towns Auditorium, where students pitched their innovative business ideas to a guest judge panel and a crowd of Liberty students and College for a Weekend (CFAW) guests.

Sponsored by United Bank, Create Fest featured a total of seven student-run teams competing for a share of $10,000 in grant money.

Local business owners Jordan and Holly Nickerson, who founded Rookie’s, a dessert shop, and have previously participated as judges for Create Fest, served as emcees.

This year’s competition centered around the three pillars of “pray,” “think,” and “create,” encouraging students to first and foremost take their ideas to God before beginning the planning and implementation stages in creating a product.

Winners Austin Demorata-Braza and Andrew Farquhar

Each contestant was given five minutes to present their ideas onstage and seven minutes to field questions from the judges. This year’s judges were Liberty alumnus Mike Morrison (’11, ’14), vice president of development at Resolute Private Wealth; Peter Shaddock, patent attorney at Shaddock Law Group, PC; Pastor Matt Ousdahl from Arundel Christian Church in Glen Bernie, Md.; and Lynchburg Mayor Stephanie Reed.

Contestants provided an overview of their product and explained how it will improve life for others. This year’s competition included presentations related to the fields of parking assistance, dental care, appliance attachments, mission work, navigational chat bots, and additional food and beverage locations in Lynchburg.

Brothers Adelin and Brandon Lucaci briefly shared about their invention, Novu, a caffeine and vitamin-infused lollipop that finished as a finalist in last year’s Create Fest. Novu is currently in the process of being implemented as a sales product in Lowe’s retail stores as well as several airports.

Taking home first place and the grand prize of $5,000 was the team of Austin Demoreta-Braza and Andrew Farquhar, who presented their invention Wize Park, a mobile app designed to assist drivers in finding parking spaces in parking garages and increase overall parking garage safety. The proposed app includes live updates on open parking spaces in garages through AI-operated cameras as well as safety features such as cloud-based storage and an emergency call button.

Ethan Ondrick and Niko Warren, designers of the Amethyst Purple Case, finished as runners-up and received $3,000. This product aims to address the issue of dental retainer care through creating a case that sterilizes retainers with the help of UV-C light.

Two presentations tied for third place, winning $1,000 each: Vacuclaw, designed by Stephen Loomans, a rubber vacuum cleaner attachment with teeth to collect pet hair more efficiently than a typical vacuum cleaner, and Botflow.io, an internet platform that can provide websites with personalized chatbots to assist in website accessibility and navigation for users.

After the event, business professor Kristin Boyce, director of the Center of Entrepreneurship, shared her appreciation for all of the 2024 Create Fest contestants.

“The event was amazing and speaks a lot to the students’ character and their drive and motivation to do something that takes a lot of time,” she said, noting that students were provided workshops and other resources leading up to the event to further perfect their inventions. “It takes a lot of time to create these business plans, the pitch decks, and all of the materials that they are doing. (They put) the heart and the hustle into it. Those students who are pouring all of the time and energy into that are the ones who are going to see the great reward.”

This year, Create Fest was also supported by the John W. Rawlings School of Divinity and School of Engineering.

The Center for Entrepreneurship exists to help Liberty students develop entrepreneurial skills, launch businesses based on biblical principles, and network with like-minded business owners for continual growth.

“(We want) to be a conduit to connect (students) to resources so they can continue building these businesses,” Boyce said. “(We also give them) encouragement by giving them love, support, lots of prayer, and just being here so they have a place to come talk through these ideas and see what’s next.”

Junior Peace Lim, who serves as a student worker for the center, said Create Fest and other opportunities at Liberty emphasize the importance of being “image-bearers” of God.

“(God) has given us the ability to create, and as a Christian university, we want to harness that and have a space where we can encourage people to use the skills, talents, and the ideas that God has given them to bring glory to His name,” she said. “Ultimately, it’s not for our glory, but it’s always for His glory.”

Business professor Kristin Boyce serves as director of the Center for Entrepreneurship.
The 2024 Create Fest judging panel (left to right: Mayor Stephanie Reed, Pastor Matt Ousdahl, Peter Shaddock, Mike Morrison)



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