It doesn’t sound like much fun, but it does sound like a pretty good idea: Tax filing kiosks at busy retail locations.

That’s the idea Kyle Klansek ’13 entered in the Coinstar Inc. Next Big Idea contest, which asked college students from around the country to submit proposals for kiosk businesses.

Kyle Klansek '13 had a big idea for changing how people file their taxes—one that netted him $10,000.
Kyle Klansek ’13 had a big idea for changing how people file their taxes—one that netted him $10,000.

Klansek’s submission won the top prize of $10,000.

Not bad for an idea that was not selected by Klansek’s teammates when he presented it during a brainstorming session and that Klansek submitted individually at the last minute. “I didn’t think there was any way that it would go anywhere,” he says. “I didn’t expect it would win.”

Klansek and teammates were participating in the competition as a requirement of environmental design class at A&M, which focuses on creativity and entrepreneurship. The team collectively submitted another great idea to Coinstar—the details of which Klansek prefers remain confidential so that he can possibly pursue the business. While the idea didn’t win, Klansek says he believes it has potential.

Klansek’s “IRS kiosk’ fit Coinstar’s three criteria for a Next Big Idea winner, explained Alex Doumani, vice president of engineering at the company. “It adds good, meaningful value; the concept serves a sizeable consumer market; and it is innovative, creative and different.”

Doumani said the tax kiosk concept fits a sector with great growth potential in the category of “pop-up’ retail. These are shops, or devices, that meet a large but temporary consumer demand, and then can be broken down and put away until the next time of need. For example, each October, “there are many pop-up stores that serve a significant consumer need centered around the Halloween theme, then go away,” said Doumani. “We see that this could be the same with the IRS kiosk. It has a large potential and it serves an attractive retail market.”

Doumani didn’t provide details but the concept for the tax-filing device would be to install it at retail locations as April 15 rolls around. “Kyle showed ingenuity and ability,” said Doumani.

Doumani says the IRS kiosk could fit in the growing market for self-service applications for government services. This year, several states have received positive reviews for installing kiosks where citizens could renew their driver’s licenses and conduct other activities at motor vehicle offices. In addition, a number of libraries are installing self-service kiosks that patrons can use to check materials in or out.

Klansek, only in his second year of studies at Mays, has not yet declared a major, but says he is leaning heavily toward management with an entrepreneurship focus. He says this experience with the Coinstar competition has been a great motivator for him to start thinking of himself as an entrepreneur. He intends to invest his prize money into a new venture while he is still a student, as he’ll have greater access to resources through the Mays Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship. “Sometimes all you need is this kind of push. Winning the contest has urged me to pursue my own business,” he said.