Senior in CSSE wins annual Halloween Business Idea Pitch Competition

Published: Nov 2, 2022 9:00 AM

By Joe McAdory

Many less fortunate often resort to high-interest payday loans at an average of 400 percent just to make ends meet. Zakariya Veasy, a senior in computer science and software engineering, however, has an answer.

He created OMNIS, a crowdsourced social media platform designed to allow individuals the opportunity to earn money through community and peer-to-peer short-term micro-loans, and others an avenue to borrow money to meet immediate needs without resorting to high-interest loans.

“The value proposition for our users is that it builds credit for demographics who are underserved and overlooked,” he said. “With OMNIS, users are building up the community’s financial literacy and closing the generational wealth and credit gaps across the country.”

His idea impressed seven industry professional judges enough to win the 2022 Halloween Business Idea Pitch Competition and a share of $5,000 in prizes Friday, Oct. 28., at the Broadway Event and Space Theater inside Horton-Hardgrave Hall.

Veasy believes the college’s Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSSE) provided him with the educational foundation to bring his business idea to life.

“A lot of our structure for the OMNIS application comes from the fundamentals of the CSSE program and it helps us understand how everything works together and identify any coding issues,” said Veasy, who earned the grand prize of $2,000. “Without the CSSE program, I would not have the team of strong coders I have today.”

Hosted annually by the Harbert College of Business and the New Venture Accelerator, students spend weeks developing a business plan before delivering their pitch before a live audience.

“The competition gets better each year and I’m so proud to see so many outstanding, diverse ideas from our students who represent multiple colleges across campus,” said Lou Bifano, director of the New Venture Accelerator. “The Halloween Pitch Competition serves as an excellent springboard for students to continue to develop their business plan and get a better understanding of their prospective markets.”

Auburn Engineering didn’t settle for just first place.

Mechanical engineering senior Tristan Pettus, who built electrofusion clamps for Edwards Design and Manufacturing and interned at NASA’s Marshall Space and Flight Center and calculated flight trajectories, teamed with finance student Josh Green for third place and $500. Their product, Stretch & Go, is a device that aids in the stretching of hamstrings.

Mechanical engineering research assistant William Murphy, who earned his undergraduate degree earlier this year, teamed with finance student Avery Arasin to win fourth place and $500. Their product, BAE, is an app that allows students to connect with each other within their own university ecosystem.

AbGlo, founded by CSSE graduate student Courtney Montague, industrial and systems engineering graduate student Holli Michaels, and Marianne Madsen, owner of MadFitness in Santa Barbara, Calif., earned $1,000 in the Special Category Award, sponsored by the Thomas Walter Center for Technology Management. This physical fitness device provides visual feedback to correct lumbar posture.

Entrepreneurial-minded students involved in the Tiger Cage program will compete through quarterfinal and semifinal pitch rounds before pitching products and plans in front of industry professional judges in the March 31 final round. There, $50,000 in startup capital is at stake.

Applications to compete in Tiger Cage are due by Nov. 16, with the competition kicking off on Friday, January 27. To register, click HERE or contact Lou Bifano, director of the New Venture Accelerator at for more information.

Media Contact: Joe McAdory,, 334.844.3447
Computer science and software engineering student Zakariya Veasy and his business idea, OMNIS, won the October 28 Halloween Business Idea Pitch Competition.

Computer science and software engineering student Zakariya Veasy and his business idea, OMNIS, won the October 28 Halloween Business Idea Pitch Competition.

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