Radiochain Takes the Win at CREATE-X’s Fall 2021 I2P Showcase

A team of fourth-year computer science students from the Georgia Institute of Technology took home first place at CREATE-X’s fall 2021 Idea to Prototype (I2P) Showcase, held Dec. 6 in the Marcus Nanotechnology Building atrium.

At the showcase, student inventors across campus presented over 30 functional prototypes with application to real-world problems. The showcase is the culmination of I2P, where Georgia Tech students spend a semester turning their invention idea into a working product. Students earn research credit in addition to receiving financial support and faculty mentorship. 

This semester’s winning team, made up of Georgia Tech swimming and diving team members Nicole Williams, Kyle Barone and Cale Russell, developed Radiochain, a blockchain based music application that turns the world’s music library into a stock market exchange.

“Essentially, users can invest in their favorite songs and artists instead of investing in companies as stocks,” said Nicole Williams. “We plan to do this through an innovative token model that will benefit artists and fans alike.”

The trio first heard about CREATE-X when they stepped foot on campus together as freshman. CREATE-X routinely presents to incoming student-athletes and occasionally entire teams, and in October 2019 Rahul Saxena, CREATE-X’s interim director, shared the program with the Georgia Tech swimming and diving team. The presentation inspired Williams and her teammates to build a functional prototype of their own idea – insert Radiochain – and they couldn’t believe it when they were announced as the winning team at the showcase.

“Winning first place at the I2P Showcase was very surreal,” said Williams. “It has given us a renewed confidence to know others see as much potential in our project as we do.”

Although the team was victorious, Radiochain’s success didn’t come without challenges. The students faced a steep learning curve while creating a decentralized app. Writing code with a Web3 (decentralized) backend versus a traditional Web2 (centralized) stack required all of them to pick up new languages and understand different frameworks they didn’t have much prior experience with.

“It has been so rewarding to build something from the ground up together, and we would highly recommend other students take advantage of doing the same,” said Williams.

The team plans to continue developing Radiochain in preparation for a public launch. They will be enrolling in I2P for the spring semester and Doug Allvine, Georgia Tech's assistant athletics director for innovation, will serve as their mentor.

“We hope to continue to expand student-athletes involvement in CREATE-X and explore their entrepreneurial ideas, including but not limited to sports,” said Allvine.

Furthermore, the team will be applying to CREATE-X Startup Launch, and competing in the Georgia Tech InVenture Prize.

“We’re very grateful to Georgia Tech for providing us with the space to work on something we’re passionate about and are excited to continue,” said Cale Russell.

In addition to developing Radiochain and pursuing their degrees, Barone, Russell and Williams are all training to compete in the ACC/NCAA DI Swimming Championships in the spring.

When asked what advice they would give to other students interested in I2P or another CREATE-X program, the team had nothing but positive things to say.

“If you’re interested in being an entrepreneur, it’s a must-do,” said Williams. “The resources Georgia Tech provides are invaluable, and you’ll get to meet people that will remain great connections for the rest of your life.”

“Even if you don’t have an idea yourself, students working on other projects are constantly looking for teammates where your skillset can be valuable,” added Kyle Barone.

CREATE-X also awarded prizes for second and third place at the showcase. Team PCB-sEMG, consisting of Yunho Cho and Jihan Park, won second place for their surface electromyography (sEMG) sensor with its electrode built into the PCB and team Heelios, consisting of Paola Colon, Julian Perez and Jacob Wutzler, won third place for their thermoregulated shoe that strives to isolate a patient’s foot to reduce the risk of ulcers.

A photo gallery from the fall 2021 I2P Showcase can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3s8wmgD.

CREATE-X is now accepting applications for the spring semester of I2P. Teams accepted into the program will have the opportunity to advance their invention idea towards a real product by performing basic research, analysis, building, and testing. They will receive a $500 allowance for physical expenses along with course credit and mentorship from a Georgia Tech faculty member. To learn more or to apply, visit the CREATE-X website.

CREATE-X is a Georgia Tech initiative to instill entrepreneurial confidence in students and empower them to launch successful startups. The broader goal of this initiative is to provide the knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences that will give Georgia Tech graduates the confidence to create their own future and confidently pursue entrepreneurial opportunities.

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Ashley Ritchie