Morgan State University students win Zillow’s HBCU hackathon with app that measures financial credibility outside of credit scoring


SEATTLE — Zillow’s second HBCU housing hackathon, which drew more than 200 students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), awarded top prizes to teams that developed innovations to help renters and first-time buyers find the house of their dreams.

The top three hackathon finalists, in collaboration with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Amplify 4 Good, won over the judges with projects that deliver impactful technology solutions that align with Zillow’s mission to help consumers overcome obstacles in their journey to find a home.

ZillowBears, a team of four Morgan State University students, won first place and $20,000 for their “Z-Save” app, which estimates monthly mortgage costs and allows users to deposit that amount into a virtual wallet that tracks their payment trends. The app also displays lender data points to help determine if potential homeowners are eligible for a mortgage and offers them a way to prove their creditworthiness outside of the traditional credit scoring system. Zillow® will also donate $25,000 to the Morgan State Computer Program as part of the top prize.

“I wanted to participate in the hackathon to learn more about the real estate industry and explore in more depth how technology can help solve the most important problems people face every day when trying to secure a home” said Nanfwang Dawurang, a ZillowBears member and a senior computer science student at Morgan State University. “Seeing how different people approach the same problem in completely different ways and the various innovative and exciting ideas presented to solve housing problems has shown me that progress can always be made when people come together and have the intention to solve a problem.”
The HBCU Hackathon brought together 65 teams. Six teams qualified for the final round and had five minutes to pitch their ideas virtually, using live demos and pitches, to a judging panel comprised of Zillow and technology industry leaders.
“We are very impressed with the caliber of work, the quality of the presentations, and the exceptional and innovative ideas that students presented during Zillow’s second HBCU housing hackathon,” said Aldona Clottey, vice president of corporate social responsibility. Zillow companies and one of the judges. “With 20 schools represented, this hackathon not only helps Zillow continue to foster engagement among HBCUs, but it allows us to tap into our next generation of technology leaders to ensure we continually evolve as a company and that we are having a positive impact on the tech industry as a whole.”
Oluwadara Dina, Saad Nadeem and Godsheritage Adeoye joined Dawurang in the first place team. Their winning app “Z-Save” was designed to address disproportionate mortgage turndown rates for Black and Latino borrowers due to low credit scores by giving lenders another way to assess financial credibility. Users can establish a positive payment history and receive a “Z-score”, which can be used as an indicator of creditworthiness.

Zillow HBCU Hackathon Finalists

The other winners of the hackathon were Straw Hat Crew from Fisk University and First Move from Howard University.

Team Straw Hat Crew won second place and $12,000 for its “Hey Roomie” concept, a Zillow rental hub integration that uses machine learning to match renters with compatible potential roommates or co-signers based on rental preferences. housing and lifestyle.

Straw Hat Crew included Collins Ikpeyi, Sopuruchi Ndubuisi and Elijah Okoroh.

Team First Move won third place and a $6,000 prize for “VibeZ,” an app for Millennials and Gen Z homebuyers that allows users to search for homes based on home preferences. community, such as access to nightlife, green spaces, the presence of an artistic scene and more.

First Move team members included Bryce Gordon-Pinkston, Ife Martin, Ayotunde Ogunroku and Joshua Veasy.
The semi-finalist teams were:
Alabama State University’s Team Atom, featuring team members Arnold Bhebhe, Best Olunusi, Robert Mukuchura, and Lucky Chitundu
Morgan State University Broker Bears, with Efosa Isujeh, Subomi Popoola, Martin Adu-Boahene and Dimitri Watat
Howard University Rocket, starring Jeremy White Jr., Karis Lewis, Morayo Adeyemi and Tyler Williams

Semi-final judges included Lakshmi Dixit, Zillow Vice President, Tech Engineering and Operations; Kevin Regensberg, senior technical product manager at Zillow; Damien Peters, Founder, Black Wealth; Richard Clay, Investment Partner, Door Room Fund; and Chad Womack, Ph.D., vice president of national STEM programs and technology initiatives at UNCF.

All students from the top three teams will also receive new laptops and textbook gift cards, and all eligible hackathon participants interested in a role at Zillow will have the opportunity to interview for an internship.

The final hackathon pitch round was judged by Zillow and technology industry leaders, including Eric Bailey, Vice President of Experience Design at Zillow; Aldona Clottey, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Zillow; April Daley, software engineer at Etsy; Jonathan Rabb, Founder and CEO of Watch The Yard; and Chad Womack, Ph.D., vice president of national STEM programs and technology initiatives at UNCF.


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