Four Irving ISD graduates won top awards and a collective $5,000 in the Greater Irving Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce Innovation Awards. Richmond Okon and Sergio Arellano both graduated from the MacArthur School of Business and Entrepreneurship, while the third place team of Anthony Villagomez and Diego Zamora graduated from Nimitz’s School of Environmental Entrepreneurship.
These young entrepreneurs spent extensive time creating innovative solutions to common problems. Okon, who placed first overall, was determined to provide a tool to aid in the protection of young children. The “Safe Localizer” is Okon’s unique plan to ensure parents and school administrators have the most accurate, updated location of their child.
Using an app, parents and designated school administrators can access the real-time location of the child through a stylish GPS-enabled bracelet or shoe charm. As part of his business research and planning, Okon examined consumer buying habits, production costs and competitive products’ features.
Kelley Watson, assistant coordinator of the MacArthur School of Business and Entrepreneurship, recalls Okon’s significant growth over his years in the entrepreneurship program.
“He was an underdog, but I told him to believe in himself. [Another teacher] ‘prophesied’ that Richmond would do great things, and sure enough, ever since then he’s won everything,” says Watson.
For Arellano, who was awarded second place, the idea for his business plan initiated during his junior year. After attending several events around the DFW Metroplex, Arellano noticed a common theme: difficult parking. Determined to create a solution using the tools and resources already available, he and his business partner came up with ParkPass.
Using AI technology, ParkPass allows app users to receive real-time updates on available parking spaces, reducing the time and stress consumers waste in congested parking lots. Arellano’s creativity spanned throughout his business proposal, which included a simulation of ParkPass using video game technology as well as extensive marketing planning.
“He was really shy his freshman and sophomore years, but he stepped out [this year.] He’s very talented in all he does, academically and athletically,” says Watson.
Villagomez and Zamora created a plan to help prevent opioid abuse and overdose. Together they created “The Safe Shot,” a pill holder that distributes medicine only at the specific time and dosage prescribed by the patient’s doctor. In addition to detailed product renderings and production plans, Villagomez and Zamora suggested legislation that amplifies their goal of preventing opioid abuse.
“We believe our technology will vastly benefit society especially in the U.S., because of this tragic epidemic that is costing the lives of 47,450 every year.”
The Innovation Awards is an annual competition aimed at spurring innovation and creativity among Irving ISD high school students. Over 70 business plans were submitted, of whom 15 semi-finalists were chosen to present their business plans before the judges, all local business owners, entrepreneurs or leaders.
“Each of you represents a level of tenacity, creativity and dedication that businesses need today,” said the Chamber’s Technology Leadership Council Chair Gertrude Van Horn at the awards ceremony. “You represent the future of our diverse workforce. Keep innovating and inspiring your peers.”