Winners of 2017 Rethink the Bank Innovation Tournament

Over 53 students from across academic disciplines at the University of Utah competed in the Rethink the Bank Innovation Tournament on Feb 11, 2017, to discover new ways for financial innovation.

The event was hosted by the Center for Innovation in Banking and Financial Services (CIBFS), a division of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute and the David Eccles School of Business. Both undergraduate and graduate students competed and worked directly with mentors from the banking industry.

The first place and the People’s Choice Award went to team (crowd)(factor), along with a $2,000 in cash prize.

“Our idea was to provide startups and small businesses cash-flow relief by factoring their invoices and selling them on an open marketplace,” said Luke Freedom Hansen, a finance and entrepreneurship honors undergrad and the first-place winner, alongside Cesar Sanchez, a graduate student in finance.

“Cesar did a lot of the heavy lifting on measuring the viability of our idea and flushing out the details of the business model,” continued Hansen. “I did a majority of the pitching, so the competition really aided me in refining my ability to summarize complex and impromptu thoughts in a persuasive manner.”

The competition also provided a meet-and-greet networking lunch between students and bankers. Problems were presented to the students for them to choose and solve based on their preference.

Eugene Luzgin, a professional MBA student and second-place winner on team Commit, worked with his team on a cash-flow problem for students who need to pay for unexpected expenses.

“We got a great help from a fintech CEO who is actually specialized in providing small loans to people with less than perfect credit,” Luzgin said. “I learned that managing risks is a large factor in this type of business, and to know your customer is key.”

“The bankers that participated were very impressed with the caliber of the students’ innovations,” said Aimee McConkie, managing director of the Center for Innovation in Banking and Financial Services. “After the tournament, students are still using their connections to their banking mentors by asking follow-up questions and gathering advice. The networking aspect of this event was terrific.”

The Center for Innovation in Banking and Financial Services hosted the tournament to help grow and foster an already strong financial industry in Utah.

“Utah has a very strong banking industry and is know for innovation in financial services. Our state leaders also recognize the banking sector as a vital economic hot-spot and they are committed to supporting growth of the industry,” McConkie said.

With Zions, American Express, Goldman Sachs, UBS and Sallie Mae Bank in the beehive state, McConkie added, “Utah is the country’s ninth largest in banking assets.” This means lots of opportunity for those interested in pursuing a career in financial services or looking to innovate in the sector.

To learn more about the Center for Innovation in Banking and Financial Services (CIBFS), visit

Here are the winners of the 2017 Rethink the Bank Innovation Tournament:

1st Place & People’s Choice Award – $2,000

Team: (crowd)(factor)

Luke Freedom Hansen

Cesar Sanchez

(crowd)(factor) provides factor financing to startups and small businesses that are underserved, smaller and untraditional factoring candidates. Invoices are purchased by (crowd)(factor) and offered up to the “crowd” on a marketplace for investment.

The benefit is that companies can receive much-needed cash flow relief, and investors get access to a new and liquid investment vehicle in terms of 30,60 or 90 days.

2nd Place (Tie) – $1,000

Team: Commit

Ipsae Mo Gardner

Timothy Aun

Michael Wilson

Eugene Luzgin

Commit combines financial crowdfunding and an online job market platform into a unique solution for students where loans can be repaid through local job performance.

The idea matches three parties: Investors who invest to the fund, companies that provide temporary and/or part-time work, and students who borrow from the fund, who would have an option to pay those loans back or perform certain jobs.

2nd Place (Tie) – $1,000

Team: Next Generation Notary

Mike Caldwell

Tushar Chelebra

Ekta Jaiswal

Ashly Vvong

Althea Tang

Next Generation Notary makes it easy to get financial and legal documents to be signed and notarized through a unique and streamlined process.

About the Author:

J Abubo J. Abubo is a University of Utah student studying entertainment arts & engineering and design. She is a Community Engaged Scholar and Innovation Scholar who aims to build empathy through digital experiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *