INDIANAPOLIS ― He has met CEOs of Apple and Zappos, but in pitching his startup that aims to stop college cheating, Indiana University entrepreneur Max Brickman really wants to hook one particular fish:
“Shark Tank” venture capitalist and fellow Hoosier Mark Cuban.
“That’s my goal right now: To get him as an investor,” Brickman, 22, said. “He has the connections for licensing, he went to IU ― he has the ability to take this to the next level.”
So Brickman entered RECESS, a national pitch contest backed by Cuban ― and won.
Brickman’s CleanSlate company sandwiches Scantron-style multiple-choice answer sheets between privacy screens.
Often used on laptop or tablet screens, plastic covers appear see-through for the user looking straight-on, but they’re dark and opaque from other angles to block out nosy neighbors, The Indianapolis Star reported.
Brickman says this will help college instructors prevent students from cheating off nearby tests. Students can see their own tests under the privacy filter, but not the ones of students sitting next to them.
They fill in the answer bubbles on top of the privacy screen onto pressure-sensitive answer sheets.
“It’s pretty easy to cheat,” said Brickman, who graduated in May with an entrepreneurship degree from IU’s Kelley School of Business. “Someone’s sitting shoulder-to-shoulder next to you taking the same test.
“CleanSlate allows you to take your test normally, but your neighbor’s exam appears completely black. You can’t cheat. And you turn it in just like a normal test.”
Brickman says he’s working with a former Scantron technology official so schools can use the Scantron machines they already own to score CleanSlate answer sheets.
“I want to grow this into a huge company and pretty much knock Scantron out of the market,” Brickman said. “This could really be the next testing company.”
Brickman values CleanSlate at $3 million and says he has offers for half a million in funding.
At the RECESS competition in Las Vegas last month, Brickman pitched CleanSlate to a panel of investors, who grilled him with questions. The hardest one: How do you change an answer with CleanSlate?
That’s still in development, he said.
Winning first place in the competition helped put Brickman in touch with one of Cuban’s representatives, he said, and he also thinks he has potential investors in two Hoosier alumni from an earlier competition round in Bloomington.
CleanSlate still has its roots in Bloomington, at Hoosier Hatchery, an IU incubator. But right now, Brickman is bopping around San Francisco trying to round up enough money and momentum to grow his startup.
“I think it’s a new idea,” he said. “It solves a common problem everyone’s seen, but everyone’s written off in the past.”