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Student-led group wins Gannon's $10,000 business prize

Student-led group wins Gannon's $10,000 business prize

ERIE, Pa. -- It started as a class assignment for a handful of Gannon students.
By Thursday morning, DaBull, a technology app they developed, had emerged as something else -- a standout in a business pitch contest and the winner of Gannon's fifth Technology Business Accelerator.

DaBull, announced Thursday at Gannon's Erie Technology Incubator, topped 14 other ideas pitched by entrepreneurs at the end of the eight-week accelerator mentoring program.

DaBull is designed for college students, particularly students attending larger universities, to find their way and make the most of their college experience.

In a group made up of business students, Faisal Alqahtani, who moved from Saudi Arabia to attend Gannon in 2012, handled the computer coding.

Alqahtani said he feels a personal connection to what he helped create, saying that the app could have made his assimilation to college life much easier.

Nick Pipitone, another of the founding members, said he believes strongly in the product's commercial potential.

"At first we thought we would do it for a grade," he said.

Jeff Parnell, executive director of the technology incubator, thinks that DaBull, pronounced dabble, has the potential to be something much bigger than a good grade.

"Their app will enable incoming college students to interact and build relationships with like-minded college students on a specific campus," Parnell said. "Judges (of the contest) saw something different. This one really resonated.

As the winner, DaBull will receive $10,000, legal assistance from two Erie law firms, free seminars at Ben Franklin Technology Partners and six months rent-free in the Erie Technology Incubator.