Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
Five student groups at Trinity University received $5,000 checks Tuesday in a venture competition that will culminate in a $25,000 investment for one of the teams this fall.
A 21st-century pill bottle, cold-brew coffee, supply company, augmented-reality app, and a chess education concept designed and operated by Trinity undergraduates were the recipients of the latest round of seed funding from the Louis H. Stumberg Venture Competition. In its three previous years, the competition has seen 15 finalists, and 11 of those companies are still in business, said Luis Martinez, who heads the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the school.
“Our entrepreneurs are building businesses while they are still undergrads," Martinez said. “I am incredibly proud that through the Stumberg competition we have companies that are creating real change in the world.”
Each of the 10 teams that competed gave five-minute pitches similar to the TV show Shark Tank with a seven-minute period afterward for questions from the judges.
The ideas pitched to the panel of five judges ran the gamut from beauty products and education via chess to cryptocurrencies and augmented reality.
The winners are:
- Mona, an augmented reality app that allows users to attach virtual objects to themselves with real-world objects;
- InterSourcing, which provides U.S. businesses access to international production;
- Patch, a pill bottle that tracks whether people have taken their medication as prescribed;
- Complete Chess, a chess education service for children and adults; and
- Quick Sip, a cold-brew coffee bottler.
Gavin Buchanan, a freshman mathematical finance student, and Andrew Aertker, a freshman computer science major, have been working on their business idea for eight months. The idea for Patch originated as a solution to the opioid crisis, Buchanan said, but they found more of a market in helping to improve the efficacy of clinical trials.
“There is a bit of an issue in the clinical trial research space as well as in health care in general in that people sometimes forget to take their pills, and that can cost them lots of money,” he said. “What we created was a smart pill bottle that tracks every time you take or don’t take your pill.”
That data is then relayed to clinical trial researchers, who can quickly determine which participants are taking their pills as prescribed, Buchanan said.
The business partners said their next steps will be to set up a limited liability corporation so they can receive funding. The seed money will help them fund prototypes of the pill bottles, which will use low-energy Bluetooth technology to track pill consumption, Buchanan said
He said Patch has a customer lined up when their devices are ready.
Entrepreneurs who did not receive funding Tuesday were told by the judges not to give up.
“Just because you receive a ‘no’ that does not mean stop," said Margaret Wilson Anaglia, a Trinity alum who owns Al’s Gourmet Nuts. "It’s just an opportunity to grow, to make you better."
Lisa Ingle-Stevens, also a Trinity alum and co-founder of The Union Yoga and Strength, said a Trinity University trustee changed her life when he gave her $8,000 to open her business. She said she and her business partner still meet with the 90-year-old trustee once a month. Ingle-Stevens cautioned the young entrepreneurs against letting fear derail their business dreams.
“Entrepreneurship is not for wusses, so you better get your big-girl pants on,” she said.