11 Jul 2019

MileOne’s 2nd Annual Innovation Challenge

Over the three-week challenge, MileOne was the epicenter of tech and innovation in Laredo, a beehive buzzing with ideas and creative energy. The starting line was the Panel & Discussion event on May 21st. It brought together trade industry giants to discuss what their industry was missing, all under MileOne’s roof. The star panel featured Ermilo Richer (Richer & Co.), Mario Palos (Palos Garza), Dionisio Gonzalez de Castilla (ALFA), Ben Escarcega (Yusen), Ruben Garibay (Select), and Ricardo Sandoval (Alterri).
Thursday, June 13th was the culmination of those three weeks of work, which included site tours at Palos Garza Forwarding and Richer & Co.’s warehousing facilities. 
Ben Escarcega of Yusen Logistics; Olivia Varela, President & CEO of the Laredo Economic Development Corporation; and Gonzalo Prida of Prida Logistics watched attentively as four teams walked on stage to pitch their products. After each, they deliberated and scored the teams on several criteria, including: creativity, tech, design, and business model. 
The final pitch came via web conference. It would prove an epic finale to the event.Jessica and her sister, Bianca Walker, 28, built IDI Cargo remotely. After hearing about the event from media coverage, they studied video footage of the Panel & Discussion event and got to work. They dazzled with the seamless design of their app. 
“It was like an answered prayer to be honest. My sister and I were working on coming up with a custom app for this specific industry, but we needed more guidance as to the most critical needs and wants of the local trucking companies.”The judges’ choice was unanimous. 
Second place was not far off, however. The GateGo team, led by undergrads at Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, and Texas A&M, presented a market-ready product as well. Their software aims to end congestion at yard and warehouse gates. Built using Google’s Firebase technology, it creates secure communications between operators and facilities in order to simplify gate processes.
The winners received a number of prizes and MileOne benefits, including entry into their business accelerator.
In the end, however, the challenge was about more than competition. It was MileOne’s way of showing that Laredo can and should be a technology hub. In short, the challenge represents what MileOne truly is – a place to grow ideas, to question how things are done, and to join creative and entrepreneurial forces to bring innovation to market. This message is echoed in their motto: “Dreamers. Doers. Trendsetters. Welcome.”