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Pacific showcases innovation in PIES competition

The sixth annual Pacific Innovation and Entrepreneurship Summit (PIES), held April 18, showcased 32 student-developed projects that innovate industries and benefit society. 

“This event is designed by students, organized by students, and showcased 32 student groups this year,” said Associate Professor and PIES Director Mehdi K Khazaeli of the School of Engineering and Computer Science. “Their entrepreneurial work is solving social problems–educational problems, technological problems…and they’re learning an entrepreneurial mindset to be ready to go into their next career.” 

The evening was hosted at Pacific’s new Fletcher Jones Foundation Makerspace and opened with the Tiger Tradeshow, a floor-wide expo where attendees browsed projects, mingled with the student entrepreneurs and cast votes for their favorite concepts.  

Following the tradeshow, the four groups with the most votes presented on-the-spot pitches to a panel of three judges, including Eberhardt School of Business alumnus Tye Davis, who once pitched his own product on the popular TV show “Shark Tank.” 

The winning pitch, presented solo by fourth-year enterprise management major Megan Flaherty earning her a $1,000 check, addressed an annoyance felt by many press-on-nails users: they never seem to fit just right.  

Flaherty combined technological innovation with an online business model to prototype Flare Nails, a mobile-order service that uses a phone app to measure the size and shape of your fingernails, allowing press-on nails to be custom sized to each buyer. 

“I wanted to create something that would last longer, be easier to apply, and generally be more cost-effective,” said Flaherty, who said she was honored to be among the top four groups.  

“I thought that the other contestants did absolutely amazing, and I’m really proud of them. I’m just really grateful that I was chosen as the winner,” said Flaherty. 

Flaherty was one of Khazaeli’s mentees throughout the development process of Flare Nails. “I’m very excited to see how well Megan is doing with her project,” Khazaeli said.  

Flaherty’s week-to-week efforts proved successful, and Khazaeli looks forward to the next phase in the business’ development.  

“I started this project with her in January when she was coming up with 20 opportunities. She screened them, and she found the best three. She did market research, and found out which one was more viable… Then she solved the technical side of it, prototyped it, and created a business around it,” Khazaeli said. “She is getting ready for the next chapter of her life.”

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