Students Create Life-Changing App: Team’s Web-Based Support System Wins Business Contest

Posted on 5/7/2015 9:10:27 AM
Ryan Brannon

Ryan Brannon came up with the My New Leaf App concept while a student at IUP.

A seed grows into a tree to mark steps in recovering from addiction.

It's just one feature of a web-based application designed by Ryan Brannon and fellow students from Indiana University of Pennsylvania recently to help people, primarily those 14-24 years old, deal with drug and alcohol abuse problems.

This app won the team a $10,000 first place prize in the fourth annual state-wide Student Business Plan Competition sponsored by Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education.

The competition allows student entrepreneurs from state schools across Pennsylvania to pitch their unique business plans to a judging panel. Entering the contest were 124 student teams. Forty-eight turned in completed business venture profiles. The competition then narrowed to twelve semi-finalists before Brannon's team was chosen as the winner.

Brannon thought up the app shortly before winning the IUP “shark tank” business competition the year before. Now, he is the founder and executive director of the newly formed nonprofit organization My New Leaf, Inc.

The app, called My New Leaf, targets a younger age group who may not be using traditional addiction treatment options.

“I wanted to provide young people with tools to not only help them decide when it is time to reach out for outside treatment, but also where they should turn,” said Brannon, a former pre-pharmacy major who graduated in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in Management Information Systems.

The app includes an avatar created by the user, achievements to earn rewards and advance to the next stage of recovery, self-help books and workbooks from nationally acclaimed addiction professionals, and panic features that contact trusted friends and family or certified recovery specialists in relapse emergencies.

He and his team consider it “entrepreneurship for the social good.”

While the Information Systems and Decision Sciences Department offers classes on database theory, business systems technology, project implementation, and logical design, Brannon gained more than knowledge from his professors-he gained inspiration on how to apply it.

From what he's learned in classes led by Professor Pankaj Chaudhary, he's optimistic about the potential uses of apps in the future.

- Kaley Toy '15, former student employee in Communications and Marketing