Aug 14, 2009

One of Nashville's newest technology ventures was spurred by Vanderbilt students and faculty connecting theory and practice.

Soon to debut: Nashville Pulse and VandyUpon, a pair of Internet services that leverage wireless phones (initially, the iPhone) and GPS location and guidance technology to direct users to events, retail discounts and other benefits, real-time as the phone-wielders move about the city or campus.

The new business that plans to offer these services – Great Glass Media LLC – has been formed by a team of current Vanderbilt students and is among the first fruits of increased collaboration among faculty and students of the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering (VUSE) and VU's Owen Graduate School of Management.

The company is currently marketing the Nashville Pulse service to local Nashville businesses.  The VandyUpon adaptation for campus denizens is not yet ready, and Great Glass is working with VU staff to ready it for launch.  The campus version would alert students to special events and other benefits, as they pass in proximity to those opportunities.

The Owen Entrepreneurship Center's (OEC) Summer Enterprise Development Program simultaneously helped fuel the Great Glass enterprise by awarding a total $20,000 in startup development grants to a pair of students pursuing Owen MBAs, according to OEC Director Germain Böer.  He said winning ventures driven by a single student-entrepreneur typically get $15,000 grants.

Böer told VNC yesterday the idea behind the four-year-old summer grants program is that "we want to take students who have what we think is a pretty interesting idea and, instead of them going out and working for a big company in the summer in an internship," they spend the summer working on their own business plan.

In this case, 2nd Year Owen MBA students Thomas Bernstein and Miguel Coles were among students who won the grants that are powering Great Glass.  Among other benefits of the grants program, the entrepreneurs were able to meet each week this summer with Böer, who provided counsel and who continues to track the company's progress.

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