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Chintan Jani, a senior at Winters Mill High School, is one of 10 finalists who will compete in the Carroll County Public Schools Business Challenge final competition April 29. (Lauren Loricchio/Carroll County Times Video)

When Chintan Jani, a senior at Winters Mill High School, was walking through a Walmart store a couple of years ago, he realized how difficult it can be to navigate a store while shopping.

"I saw people scouring the store for one item," said Jani, a Westminster resident.

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To help shoppers locate items among store aisles, Jani developed the idea for an application called the "ShopNav," a navigation system for customers at stores.

"It will allow customers to shop much more efficiently and it will allow them more time to spend with their family or spend on their hobby," Jani said.

Jani, the only Winters Mill High student to enter the second annual Carroll County Public Schools Business Challenge, will advance to the final competition on Wednesday, April 29, when he will pitch his idea along with nine other finalists from Carroll public high schools for a $5,000 scholarship award. The competition is administered by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce.

Jani said the "ShopNav" app, which could be used on a device such as a smartphone or a tablet, would rely on Bluetooth beacons — wireless sensors that communicate with one another. Beacons are built into Apple technology such as iPhones and iPads.

The wireless sensors would be placed throughout store aisles to communicate with devices, Jani explained. When someone is searching for an item — Nutella spread, for example — the navigation system would direct them to that item in the store with a map, he said.

Users would create shopping lists in the app for particular stores. Whenever there is a good deal on an item in the shopping list, the user would be alerted by the app, Jani said.

Shoppers would also be able to use their device to check out rather than waiting in line, Jani said. The app will be equipped with Near Field Communication technology that allows two devices to share data.

Jani said the app would be free for customers, but stores would pay a one-time charge of $1,000 for 50 beacons. Beacons would be attached to aisles, and the device would broadcast cereal, for example, allowing customers to find a specific type of cereal in that aisle, he explained.

Recurring income would come from advertisements, he said.

He imagines it would cost nearly $40,000 to hire a company to develop the software. In order to fund the cost, he would pay some himself and would find investors to fund the rest, he said.

Jani, who describes himself as a "tech nerd," said creating the product allowed him to combine his passion for technology with his desire to be an entrepreneur.

"I feel like technology plays a huge role in the business world," he said.

Jani said that because people have so little time nowadays, he hopes his product saves people time.

"Decreasing 10 to 15 minutes on your shopping time can allow you to do something else," he said.

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Cindy Rallo, a business education teacher at Winters Mill, said that although Jani didn't face any competition from students at his school, she thinks he has a good shot at winning.

"He happens to have a really great concept," she said.

Rallo said no one else decided to sign up even though the school advertised the challenge.

"I think some students are just overwhelmed by the process and doing the presentation on stage," she said.

Rallo said Jani has practiced his presentation before her and a panel of teachers in preparation for the final round of the competition.

"I hope he'll gain more business knowledge and I hope he'll pursue his idea," Rallo said.

Although Jani doesn't take business classes, the school offers three completer programs in accounting, marketing and information systems, Rallo said.

Five business completers are offered in the county, consisting of a series of courses. They are available in subjects including: accounting; administrative services; business administration; and management, marketing, and financial services. Other business elective classes include: business communications and keyboarding, managing personal finances using Microsoft Excel, business law, and an internship class.

All students in Maryland are required to take a financial literacy course to graduate.

Jani, who will attend Towson University in the fall as a computer science major, said regardless of whether he wins, he would like to see his business plan to fruition.

lauren.loricchio@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-7862

twitter.com/LaurenLoricchio

If you go

Where: Winters Mill High School, 560 Gorsuch Road, Westminster, MD

When: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 29

Cost: Tickets for non-Carroll County teachers and students are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Tickets for Carroll teachers and students are $5 in advance, $8 at the door.

Online: ccpsbizchallenge2015.startuplocal.biz

Part 4 of a 10-part series

April 19: Katie Allen with "The Chill-Out"

April 20: Lauren Bishop with "Damp Out & Co."

April 21: Emma Rogers and Sarah Jacobs with "SPAtaneous"

Today: Chintan Jani with "ShopNav"

April 23: Erica Dobrochowski with "Comfort Buddies"

April 24: Matthew Bosley with "Colossal Waffles"

April 25: Angela Himmelberg with "Brace Yourself"

April 26: Collin Gray and Brice Hardesty with "Goblin Skate"

April 27: Kedric Hart with "K-TECH"

April 28: Mia Romeo with "Sapore de Tapas"

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