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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Four UA students to submit idea to California Dreamin’ competition

Tyler Besh
Tyler Besh/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Four students from the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship will submit their idea of creating personalized ebooks for autistic children into a competition this month in the hopes of receiving financing.

The competition, California Dreamin’, is held at Chapman University and offers an opportunity to gain $215,000 in prize money and equity investment and up to $1,000,000 in equity financing.

“The reason that we chose their team to represent the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship is because we thought that their venture concept is truly integrative,” said Julie Forster, the McGuire program coordinator. “There’s nothing like this in the market right now so we were both impressed with the team and how innovative their concept was.”

It is important for children with autism to have repetition in their lives; that they see the same people and things, Forster said.

Emmanuel Dominguez, a senior studying MIS and entrepreneurship, is the company’s marketing manager and James Eichberger, a finance, economics, and entrepreneurship senior, is the company’s financial manager. Rosie Rice, an MIS, operations management and entrepreneurship senior, oversees the company’s operations and Alexa Stimson, a management and entrepreneurship senior, is the company’s general manager.

“It’s [the competition] a huge opportunity for us to show the country what entrepreneurship is all about, especially here at McGuire,” Eichberger said. “There’s a lot of stakes involved with it besides just the prize money, like also our reputation.”

The process of creating a personalized ebook works by allowing parents to visit the site, which is currently only a beta module, and fill in their child’s favorite things like food or their best friend. After that, parents would choose a story which the program would combine with the favorites and create the ebook.

The child would be the star of the story, Eichberger added. He also said that eventually the ebook would include interaction. For example, if there was a picture of a lion, the reader could click on it and the lion would roar.

Parents would be able to get a six-page preview for free and the students plan on selling an ebook for $6.99 and a hardback, as a memory keepsake, for $39.99, Stimson said.

“The book is going to be different,” Dominguez said. “The illustration is not the whole book, it’s just in the middle because they [autistic children] have trouble seeing the whole page.”

Investors and businesses have already taken an interest in MyEmagination. Tucson Alliance for Autism has been in contact with the students and connected them with someone who already publishes books for autistic children. However, the team has to wait until they graduate before they can formulate any plans with investors.

At the end of the semester, if investors are interested in an idea from a venture team, such as MyEmagination, entrepreneurial students can pitch their idea to investors, Eichberger said.

“It depends on how it goes in the competition,” Dominguez said. “But there is a high chance [we will continue post graduation] because it’s a really nice idea.”

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