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Andrew Smith ’19 Wins Prize in LaunchVermont Competition for App BeachIt

February 21, 2018

Heather Neuwirth (left), program director of the Middlebury Center for Creativity, Innovation, and Social Entrepreneurship, Andrew Smith '19, and Lucy Scott, creativity and innovation associate, at the LaunchVT Collegiate pitch competition.

Middlebury, Vt. – Andrew Smith ’19 has won second prize and $2,000 for his new app, BeachIt, in LaunchVT Collegiate, a pitch competition for entrepreneurs from Vermont’s colleges and universities. The app connects beachgoers with local residents willing to rent out a place to park. 

"I was very honored to be selected to represent Middlebury at LaunchVT Collegiate and to place second at the competition," said Smith. "I couldn't have done it without the help of Heather Neuwirth and Lucy Scott at the Middlebury Center for Creativity, Innovation, and Social Entrepreneurship (CCISE) and the staff at Vermont Center of Emerging Technologies. I'm looking forward to helping people use BeachIt to solve their beach parking problems this summer!" 

LaunchVT is a program of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce that provides programs and resources to support new businesses in Vermont. This year’s event took place at UVM on Feb. 16 and was the third annual collegiate competition.

Smith, who says he loves the beach, hates trying to find a parking spot there. According to Smith, 300 million day-trippers travel to U.S. beaches every year and many face a stressful, time consuming, and expensive search for beach parking once they arrive.

This dilemma spawned his idea for BeachIt. On the BeachIt website and app, beach homeowners who rent out parking space to beachgoers will earn up to $500 a month. 

Smith found that similar parking issues plague Burlington, Montpelier, and ski resorts such as Stowe. He says BeachIt’s platform offers a solution to solve these problems as well, bringing in more business to Vermont.

Initially Smith brought his idea to the Middlebury Entrepreneurs January term class and, after winning the class’s final pitch competition, earned a spot in LaunchVT Collegiate. He has been working closely with Sarah Kearns from the VTSBDC (Vermont Small Business Development Center) as well as the Oratory Now student coaches at Middlebury to refine his business idea and presentation skills.

Like Smith, student entrepreneurs from around the state competed in pitch competitions at their respective schools to qualify for the LaunchVT Collegiate final competition. Six schools sent their winning teams to UVM this year to pitch their businesses and vie for thousands of dollars in cash prizes and a spot in the 2018 LaunchVT cohort for the first-place winner.

Potential hosts or renters can sign up on BeachIt’s website for early access to an exclusive beta test. Smith says BeachIt will fully launch by May 1. 

The first-place winner of this year’s competition was Vermont Technical College, whose team pitched “Green Mountain Maple Innovations,” a manufacturer of tools for the maple sugaring industry, specifically an advanced, ergonomic tool for inserting spouts into tubes. 

Third place went to the Champlain College team, “Pure Investments,” which provides training and advice in blockchain technology and its applications, mostly in cryptocurrencies. 

Other schools that participated in the LaunchVT Collegiate competition were St. Michael's College, the University of Vermont, and Norwich University. More information about the competition is available in a Vermont Business Magazine story.