Hindsight Team Wins McMillon Innovation Studio Design Contest

A University of Arkansas team will be able to start up its own software solution company after winning $16,000 in the McMillon Innovation Studio’s design contest.

Hindsight, a team made up of U of A students and staff members Jeff Bean, Daniel Morrell, Kelly Glover, Zack Fletcher and Aaron Koch, came up with the winning solution during the contest conducted during the fall 2017 semester.

The contest was conducted in concert with DataNinja of Bentonville and Startup Junkie of Fayetteville.

The company will help retailers and suppliers make better decisions by pulling together information from social media and other sources and using that information to predict consumer shopping patterns.

“Hindsight clearly displayed the kind of engineering skills and business expertise that we look for in solutions developed in concert with the McMillion Innovation Studio,” said Clint Johnson, McMillon Innovation Studio director.

The Hindsight team was made up of a Walton MBA alumnus and students from the College of Engineering. “This is typical of the cross-discipline work going on here at the studio,” Johnson said.

Students were challenged to create a solution that pulled together information from many different sources — local news sites, social media and other online sources that influence shoppers’ decision making — to discover why certain items are selling or not selling in specified locations.

Sean Nicholas, DataNinja’s chief executive officer, said such a solution will give suppliers and brands the ability to go beyond the usual what and where of analytics and supply the why.

“DataNinja Inc. is honored to have been a part of the contest,” Nicholas said.  “We are a firm believer that you can’t force an agenda. You have to inspire one. The McMillion Innovation Studio has great platform to enable this. Clint Johnson has created and cultivated a great environment at the McMillion Studio, one of inspiration, inclusion.”

“The highly talented, winning team of Hindsight is well poised to be as successful as they so desire with the tremendous support of the University of Arkansas and Startup Junkie along with the overall need in the retailer and supplier communities to better understand the needs of their customers,” Nicholas said.

Jeff Amerine, founding principal of Startup Junkie said the studio has become an epicenter for incredible innovation. “Thanks to Clint Johnson and his team’s hard work, the studio’s design contest has become a fantastic opportunity for both students to showcase new innovations and to provide a real commercialization stepping stone for university innovators, entrepreneurs and inventors,” Amerine said. “We are extremely excited about the contest winner, Hindsight, and their potential to have a major impact on the retailer and supplier community.”

Coaching sessions for competing teams were held throughout the fall, with final judging done by DataNinja, Walmart Stores Inc, Tyson Foods, Startup Junkie of Northwest Arkansas and the U of A’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

The studio’s first contest in spring 2017 was won by Lovelace Technologies, made up of students from both the Sam M. Walton College of Business and the College of Engineering.