UF students win $20,000 in business pitch competition

Executive Director of Outreach & Incubation at UF Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center Nola Miyasaki (left), Brian De Souza (middle) and Pablo Garces (right) take a picture at e-Fest at the University of St.Thomas. Garces and De Souza, both 21-year-old UF computer science juniors,  competed with 24 other finalists for up to $250,000 in prizes this weekend. 

Thousands of dollars will go toward the full launch of an environmental app developed by UF students on Earth Day later this month.

Pablo Garces, a 21-year-old UF computer science junior, was part of a team who won a $20,000 prize this past weekend at E-Fest, a national undergraduate business pitch competition, at the University of St.Thomas in Minneapolis. The group pitched a meal service that packs healthy school lunches.

However, Garces will use his cut funds to fully launch his app LiveGreen, which tracks carbon emissions and offsets it by planting trees in other countries.

LiveGreen was released as a private test version in June and had 200 testers, Garces said. In January, there was a soft launch that wasn’t heavily marketed on the Apple App Store.

The money will go toward a simplified design for tracking and new pricing for the subscription plans and marketing.

“We want to use a mix of environmental micro-influencers and social media ads along with some money being allocated to attend environmental conferences,” Garces said.

Brian De Souza, one of the creators of the app and a 21-year-old UF computer science junior, said most people want to be environmentally conscious but don’t understand how a carbon footprint works.

Garces and De Souza said they hopemto see their app grow and eventually partner with environmentally conscious organizations within the U.S.

“It’s hard to understand what truly makes a difference in your environmental impact,” De Souza said. “Our app changes that.”