The Reese News Lab Legal Stats team placed third in the Carolina Challenge finals and received $2,000 to further develop the project.
More than 75 teams entered in the For-Profit category of the Carolina Challenge, an annual business venture competition designed to promote entrepreneurship on UNC’s campus. Five of the 75 teams made it to the final round at the Carolina Inn. A group of professors and entrepreneurs judged the finals.
“When we entered the competition, I didn’t expect to advance to the finals,” said Madison Mundy, a Legal Stats team member. “It was very validating to see months worth of work culminating in such an accomplishment.”
Legal Stats is a statistical database created from crime records collected during the past five years. To use the service, a user provides information about his or her case. Legal Stats provides a personalized report based on the type of legal offense and the county in which the offense took place.
For $9.99, Legal Stats will provide another report that is customized based on factors such as the user’s gender and age. Supplemental data, such as information about similar cases, can also be purchased.
The Legal Stats team is focused on providing reports relating to traffic tickets but hopes to expand into other types of offenses and additional states.
Reese News Lab staffers Jonathan Gaegler, Madeline Hurley and Mundy began working on the service in the summer of 2014. In fall of 2014, the team added Vaughn Hagerty, a developer from Wilmington, N.C.
“I’m very proud of the team and how far they’ve come,” said Reese News Lab Executive Director John Clark. “They started last summer with a challenge to make working with public records more financially sustainable, and they really delivered.”
Starting in 2005, the Carolina Challenge has awarded $50,000 every year to startups from UNC students and faculty. The contest has three categories: For-Profit, Social/Non-Profit, and Alumni/Faculty/Grad/Staff.
The ventures participate in three rounds of competition. Legal Stats competed in the For-Profit category. OpenOceans won first place in the competition, followed by Buddy’s, the second-place venture.
“All of the groups that pitched last night were really impressive,” Hurley said. “Everyone was very put together, and it was awesome to see the entrepreneurial spirit from all across campus.”