Computer Science Roommates Win Georgia Tech InVenture Prize and $20,000
Jeff Mao and Tyler Ma, first place InVenture Prize winners. Photo by Allison Carter
An idea that originated in a residence hall won big at the 2023 Georgia Tech InVenture Prize. Jeff Mao and Tyler Ma, both second-year computer science students, have developed a web-based platform that could help millions of online sellers save time and money.
Team SellRaze’s idea won a $20,000 check and earned Mao and Ma a coveted spot in Tech’s Startup Launch program, which will give them access to coaching from experienced entrepreneurs, access to venture capital possibilities, and a path to fast-track their idea into a viable startup.
During the presentation, the pair demonstrated the process of taking a single product listing on Amazon and adding it to eBay, which took 11 minutes and multiple steps. With SellRaze, Mao and Ma say sellers can accomplish the same task in seconds and a couple of clicks.
“List once, sell everywhere,” Mao explained.
One InVenture Prize judge, the board director of Intercontinental Hotels Group and Intercontinental Exchange, asked the team how they planned to make money.
Mao said they would offer a “fremium” model, giving users some free listings and the option to pay for increasing tiers of multiple listings. He also explained that their web platform offered a wealth of data about which products sell the best and the times and locations they are in highest demand — data that sellers and retailers would pay for.
After winning InVenture, the team now plans to expand their platform to a wider variety of online retailing sites like Depop, GOAT, Mercari, and Poshmark. “Walmart has been scaling their online presence. We also want to add them,” Ma said.
SellRaze will also receive a free U.S. patent filing from Georgia Tech’s Office of Technology Licensing. Well worth the hard work they have put into developing the platform, Mao and Ma say half the code was written between 2 and 7 a.m.
Second place and $10,000 went to Team SpoilerALERT, three biomedical engineering students who invented an antibody test for insulin degradation allowing diabetic patients to evaluate the effectiveness of the drugs they take daily.
“We believe all people with diabetes deserve to trust their medication,” said Grady Lee, team member and a former Georgia Tech football player.
The $5,000 People’s Choice Award, selected by the television viewing audience, went to Julia Pina and her Novela Lamp, which allows children to tell stories using wooden cutouts of shapes, characters, and scenes.
Pina, an industrial design major, has already been in talks with toy retailers. She says her lamp promotes imaginative play and communication skills through creative expression and helps children and families reduce screen time.
After taking first place in the 15th edition of the InVenture Prize, Team SellRaze hoisted the trophy and thanked the fans in the Ferst Center. “It’s a major milestone in our journey as entrepreneurs.”
Team SpoilerALERT won second place. Photo by Allison Carter
Julia Pina and her Novela Lamp won the People's Choice Award. Photo by Allison Carter