Conversationalist Receives 2012 Shobe Prize

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Conversationalist, created by HCDE MS students Mike Bulajewski, Allan Bathurst, and Robert Wlodarczyk, is the winning application of the 2012 Shobe Prize.

Conversationalist, created by HCDE MS students Mike Bulajewski, Allan Bathurst, and Robert Wlodarczyk, is the winning application of the 2012 Shobe Prize.

The second annual Shobe Prize competition took place in Autumn 2011 and the winning team was selected during the final judging round on Monday, February 6, 2012. The judging panel included James Fogarty, Assistant Professor, Computer Science & Engineering; Beth Kolko, Professor, Human Centered Design & Engineering; Andy Sack, Executive Director, TechStars Seattle, and Managing Partner, Founder's Co-op; and Matt Shobe, Chief Design Officer, BigDoor.com.

The winning team created a web and tablet application called Conversationalist, which integrates with Twitter to enable more substantial, less ephemeral conversations that grow out of Twitter interactions. Team members HCDE MS students Mike Bulajewski, Allan Bathurst, and Robert Wlodarczyk say that the goal of the application is to "elevate online discourse, promote respectful dialogue and exchange of ideas, and allow participants to author something that has more lasting value" than a typical Twitter conversation.

As part of their award, the team is receiving $10,000, office space, and one-on-one mentorship over the summer, in order to develop their project into a prototype and a sales pitch. At the end of the summer, they will have the opportunity to pitch their idea to a judging panel of professors and industry representatives. The team will receive guidance and mentoring, get professional feedback on their final presentation, and have the opportunity to take their idea to the next step toward realization as a product.

Shobe Prize founder and judge Matt Shobe commented on the competition for this year's Shobe Prize, saying, "This year's finalists had an eye on how they might build distribution and drive adoption, or at least were acutely aware of challenges they already face there, which is key to any startup. I'm impressed by the appetite for scope student teams are demonstrating. Some of these projects could go straight into accelerator or incubator programs for full-time startups."

More information about the Shobe Prize can be found on the Shobe Prize website. Information about Conversationalist can be found at conversationalist.heroku.com.
On left: Two members of the winning Shobe Prize team; On right: Professor James Fogarty (right) gives feedback on a finalist project while Matt Shobe looks on.
On left: Two members of the winning Shobe Prize team, HCDE MS students Robert Wlodarczyk (left) and Mike Bulajewski; On right: Professor James Fogarty (right) gives feedback while judges Matt Shobe and Andy Sack look on.