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Nichols College graduates Jason Rush ’08 and Daniel Rush ’12 have won a $15,000 prize for developing ShoutBot, a new iPhone app. This week the brothers are submitting the app to Apple for review and approval.
The two were among almost 300 aspiring entrepreneurs in the 6th annual New Product Innovation Competition at Boston’s Suffolk University, from which Jason earned his MBA in 2011.
The contest awards prizes in six divisions, including freshmen, graduate students, and alumni. The Rush brothers won in the alumni division, which attracted about a fifth of the competition’s entrants.
ShoutBot allows users to transmit voice messages much the same way as written messages can be sent via Twitter. “It’s a new form of social media that allows users to broadcast their voice,” says Dan Rush, who notes that Jason came up with the idea last fall.
“”My brother was talking with friends,” he recalls, “and said, ‘I wish I could get on my phone and say something and have it go out like a tweet.’” Instead of “tweets,’ users of the new app issue “shouts.”
“We figured that if you could actually say the message, and put some emotion into it,” it would appeal to prospective users, Dan continues. “I could say how my day was going or what it was like being in stuck in traffic.” Or he points out, users could act as citizen journalists, reporting in their own voices on events they witness.
While older brother Jason serves as the fledgling company’s CEO, Dan works as the chief communication officer, which leverages the Nichols degree in Business Communications that he received last May. Dan points to the professionalism that he developed over his Nichols career, especially when it comes to presentation skills.
“After we presented as finalists in the Suffolk competition, the judges came up to me thinking that I was the guy with the MBA,” Dan says.
Sushil Bhatia, the Executive in Residence for Suffolk’s Strategy and International Business program, founded the innovation competition. “I’m an inventor myself and was hired at Suffolk to support new product development,” he explains, adding that while competitions at other schools require contestants to develop a business plan, he was looking for something more advanced.
“I said, ‘Let’s do something new.’ In this competition, the entrants need to prepare a plan of action, and money will be released to the winners only when they meet the milestones in that plan.”
The Rush brothers have been busy pursuing those milestones, using some of their prize money along the way, from hiring programmers to getting the necessary legal advice. They’ll continue developing their product while holding down day jobs.
“I think they both are very excited about the product idea, and I think they’re serious about moving forward and making it happen,” Bhatia says. “I have a very high level of confidence that they’ll be successful.”