Month: July 2020


Verge Consulting 2020 Highlight: Vagisha Ahlawat

I am a graduate student enrolled in the UConn Business Analytics program with a background in engineering. I love solving business problems through efficient analysis of data. Using technology to analyze a problem while keeping it in the context of its business application is invaluable for navigating today’s ocean of information. I worked as a Data Analyst for a startup for two years and additionally have consulting experience with Mckinsey and Company. Having worked in varying firm structures – consulting, services, technology and startup, I have developed an understanding required to serve various types of clients. Problem solving capabilities merged with my data centered approaches, I am passionate about helping businesses make strategic decisions by assessing the strengths and risks using technology as the basis.

Verge Consulting was the perfect endeavor for me to take up this summer as it provided the chance to work with several external client companies which would serve as an excellent learning opportunity for my future career aspirations. I was also excited about the opportunity to collaborate with other consultants having diverse business backgrounds and learning from their experience.

With the program coming to an end, I can gladly say that it exceeded my expectations. I gained exposure to multiple industries in the US including energy, technology, e-commerce, marine and healthcare in just 10 weeks. I got the opportunity to work with clients facing multiple challenges at the different stages in the business life cycle. I was able to apply the business as well as technical concepts learned in the classroom to decipher client needs, conduct thorough research and develop actionable recommendations. The most rewarding aspect of the program was the exceptionally collaborative peer learning and remarkable mentorship by both CCEI and SDBC’s advisors who guided us at each step through their experience and knowledge while giving us the support to follow our own unique approach.


Summer Fellowship 2020 Highlight: Pisces Atlantic

I’m Peter Goggins, I’m a senior environmental science major in CAHNR, founder of Pisces Atlantic. My company produces a commercial fish feed made from alternative, novel, protein sources. These feeds are intended for use on big fish farms where most of the global supply of seafood is produced. I was inspired to create an alternative feed after I learned how environmentally destructive conventional feeds are as well as their increasing scarcity (and associated skyrocket of price), in recent years; I learned about this after reading a National Geographic article and decided that I was going to revolutionize the industry by making a more effective, greener feed that could be sold at a lower price than what’s on the market today. Pisces Atlantic feeds are a clean break from what is typical in the aquafeed industry by completely disregarding traditional nutrition sources and utilizing vegetable & insect proteins in their place to create a more effective, more sustainable, and more economical feed.

I’ve enjoyed a decent amount of award recognition over the last few years: I’m a past GetSeeded winner, two-time Accelerate UConn program graduate, second-place finalist and award winner of the Innovation Quest program here at UConn as well as a summer InQbator graduate. More recently I’ve won an award from the city of Middletown’s Collision pitch event, been accepted to CCEI Summer Fellowship, and filed a patent application after having been accepted to the UConn IP Law Clinic. Finally, I was awarded a grant to facilitate the use of an intern team through UConn’s brand-new VentureWerx program. I’ve conducted extensive rounds of R&D, made a season-long exclusive-supply sale to a farming business, and have recently focused my efforts on constructing a manufacturing line at my facility in East Hartford.

Summer Fellowship has been fantastic and eye-opening. If I had to boil it down to one critical aspect I’d highlight the interactions with industry experts and mentors: I cannot overstate how helpful it has been to continually have meetings with the program guests and allow them to vet my ideas, evaluate my pitch, and help me build out my business. I’m particularly excited to keep making sales, my manufacturing should be live soon and I’m anxiously anticipating an influx of regular sales!

 


Summer Fellowship 2020 Highlight: Unlimino

 

MACRØ is the inaugural product of Unlimino LLC, a non-niche technology company comprised of five members. The company was started because we love technology and want to be a key factor and influence in how we develop the future of it, regardless of industry or niche. The five members are Harrison Burr (CEO), Pranav Thaker (CMO), Andrew Martino (CFO), Brandon Lebiszczak (CCO), and Christian Galain (COO). MACRØ as a product specifically is a niche solution to code and keyboard shortcut-intensive industries, such as computer programming, graphic design, video editing, music production, and web design. Shortcuts are too complicated (not to mention there are too many of them), code gets repetitive, and a lot of time is wasted in the aforementioned industries simply doing what should be instant. If only we had one-click keys that do the tedious/hard stuff for us. Well, MACRØ does just that: we make it easy to program and create one-click easy keys that can be used anywhere on your computer by removing the need to code and introducing a simple, drag-and-drop user interface. We create a virtual keypad that lives on your desktop, giving you access to these custom-made keys that adapt to how you work. Basically, MACRØ is a next generation computing productivity tool that adapts uniquely to how you work! So far, we’ve raised over $18,000 in seed funding between three entrepreneurial incubators (iQ, Accelerate UCONN, Get Seeded, Summer Fellowship), in addition to having developed an early beta version of the software. So far in Summer Fellowship we’ve received insights that have truly shaped the way we approach the development and execution of a purely software, SaaS solution in the business and entrepreneurial realm. Marketing strategies, IP nuances, financing, revenue modeling, all-in Summer Fellowship has been one of the most educational accelerators the Unlimino team has gone through to present.

 

 


Verge Consulting 2020 Highlight: Sai Ramaraju

I’m a Business Analytics graduate candidate with a 3 year professional career at Deloitte in consulting US-based & European businesses. With a background in implementing data infrastructure  and building business intelligence platforms, I enjoy breaking complex problems into smaller, more manageable pieces. I’m passionate about using my core strength – data analytics, to pivot critical business decisions around marketing and sales strategy. I believe that versatility is my forte, with an ability to handle crises, I’m quick to adapt to changes. Consulting for businesses, large/medium/small, and helping them reach the next level is where I thrive the most.

At Verge, I saw the potential to create tangible impact through my prior consulting experience and my learnings at the Business School. This was an opportunity to not only bridge the gap between my analytical and business skills but also work with a diverse peer group at CCEI & CT SBDC. To be able to help small businesses navigate through the pandemic and work on a different style of business problems drove me to choose the Verge program this summer.

What I’m looking forward to most is to meet with business owners and discover areas that challenge my current skillset and potential projects that give me the chance to explore and hone new skills. In contrast to the larger organizations, I’m excited to learn about challenges that come with projects from local owned businesses. I’m also honoured to be associated with mentors and business advisors from both CCEI and CT SBDC and hope to gain valuable insights from them through my time at Verge.


Summer Fellowship 2020 Highlight: VeraDermics

The VeraDermics team is composed of several dermatologists who treat warts on a regular basis. Like many other physicians, we are unsatisfied with current treatment options for pediatric warts. Existing methods are either painful, ineffective, or both, which means many children leave the doctor without getting treated. 

To solve the problems with current wart treatments, we invented the 1st ever kid-friendly and easy-to-use wart treatment. Our product, WartPatch, combines the most effective wart treatment with a kid-friendly drug delivery platform. WartPatch uses a dissolvable microneedle patch to deliver immunotherapy. Microneedle patches are established, patient-friendly technology that go onto the skin like a band-aid, and the microneedles dissolve into the skin which releases immune stimulating medication. Immunotherapy is a treatment that gets the body’s own immune system to fight off the wart virus. 

It has proven especially effective in treating warts in children, but is typically too painful in its current injectable form. This process of administering immunotherapy in a microneedle patch would be virtually painless, and thus an excellent fit for the pediatric market. 

Many people have validated the potential for WartPatch, as we have been selected grand prize winners of MIT Hacking Dermatology, The Blue Health KC Venture Creation Challenge, and Connecticut Business Plan Competition. We are also participating in UConn’s InQbator Program, and we have been accepted into the Pepper Hamilton Emerging Growth Program for intellectual property legal representation. Apart from Summer Fellowship, we have also received funding from UConn Get Seeded and the Texas A&M New Venture Competition. In total, we have raised $130,000 of non-dilutive funding. 

Currently, we are partnered with the Southwest Research Institute to create a trial-ready prototype. We have also filed a provisional patent. In addition, we have partnered with dermatologists to perform an investigator initiated clinical trial once our prototype is completed. 

Our core team is composed of several highly-skilled members with expertise in biotechnology, life sciences consulting, and corporate logistics. Dr. Reid Waldman is a dermatology resident at UConn is the company’s COO and expert on clinical trials. Dr. Timothy Durso is a dermatology resident in San Antonio and the team lead in preclinical design and execution. Dr. Madeline DeWane is a recent graduate of the UConn school of medicine, the company’s CSO, and is completing her internship at Yale New Haven Hospital. Dr. Ming Lee is a dermatology resident at Boston University and will be directing FDA regulatory compliance. Kyle Ryder is a life sciences consultant for early stage startups at Trinity Life Science partners and is the head of business development. Dr. Steven Waldman, a former hospital CEO, CFO and Board Chairman, is serving as the company’s CEO. Audrey Worth, an undergraduate molecular cell biology major at UConn, is an intern for VeraDermics and liaison to CCEI’s Summer Fellowship. 

At Summer Fellowship, we have enjoyed learning about value propositions and customer personas and how critical it is to understand these areas before a startup even considers entering the market. We have also gained valuable insight from mentors such as Nicole Wagner, the CEO of LambdaVision. Nicole offered advice on grant writing from her own experience. We are most looking forward to learning more about marketing and brand development at Summer Fellowship. We currently have a company website (www.veradermics.com) and LinkedIn page, and we would love to explore ways to further develop these avenues and additional opportunities for marketing. 

 


Summer Fellowship 2020 Highlight: SedMed Solutions

 

SedMed Solutions, co-founded by Jeremy Bronen and Timothy Krupski, has created a patent pending toilet lift assist product to help the elderly and disabled get on and off the toilet. Too many senior citizens or otherwise disabled people are struggling with daily toileting activities leading to falls, injuries, and even deaths. Caregiver intervention results in injuries, a lack of independence and privacy, and high associated costs.

Tim’s Grandmother suffered from a stroke when Tim was in high school, making her wheelchair bound. After watching his grandmother struggle getting on and off surfaces around the house, Tim realized he needed to help. And so SedMed was born. This company and this product were founded on the principle of caring for and helping the people we love – our families.

 


Summer 2020 Intern Highlight – Noah Sobel-Pressman

 

This summer I am a Summer Analyst at Health Venture, which is a digital health VC firm. I am working on the venture capital arm of the company.

I am responsible for conducting due diligence on startups, creating startup evaluation models, researching various aspects of the industry, and more. Most of my work I do I work with the other interns collaboratively and I also work with my supervisor as well.

Entrepreneurship and innovation is a huge part of my position as I am working on investing in startups. We have to be very innovative in our analysis of startups to ensure we are maximizing our analysis and finding the best companies.

I have learned a lot about the VC world, from analyzing startups to raising VC funds. This knowledge I have gained from the internship with help propel me forward because I have a better understanding of the industry.


Verge Consulting 2020 Highlight: Raghav Shekhar

 

Being a technology and startup enthusiast, I could not have found a better opportunity than Verge Consulting to mark the end of my first year at UConn School of Business. Software Engineer turned Entrepreneur, I have spent the majority of my professional experience turning ideas in products and products into businesses, going Zero to One as they say in Silicon Valley. The highlight of my professional journey has been the LegalTech venture Lawyered, which I started in 2015 to help startups gain accessibility to legal services. The business went on to help over 6000 startups get legal assistance before getting acquired in late 2018.

Although I picked up valuable knowledge in product management, analytics and marketing strategy, most of what I learnt came from the ’school of hard knocks’. The MBA program at UConn is helping me build a stronger business acumen and foundation, while interning with CCEI and CTSBDC is helping me put these learning into action. This was the primary reason why I chose to intern with Verge, as it would give me the opportunity to work with multiple companies across industries and customer segments and would also help me understand the business landscape in the United States.

Halfway through the internship, I must say, the experience has surpassed my expectations in every way possible. Firstly, getting introduced to and interacting with a dozen of really smart startup founders has elevated the whole learning experience. Everyday I get to learn things that are hard to achieve from a classroom environment. Secondly, with every business being at a different stage of business, consulting businesses on the challenges/tasks at hand is providing me with knowledge not only on different facets of a business but also the entire business lifecycle.

The Verge journey till now has been exhilarating and I feel sad that it will eventually come to an end, as it seems to be the perfect place and position for anyone looking to get into consulting. I hope the value I provide to the clients goes far beyond this summer and brings them success for years to come.


Summer Fellowship 2020 Highlight: Hintersight Studios

Auto-Combat is a digital hybrid board game adaptation of the auto-battler genre. It uses NFC embedded cards to interact with a specially designed surface to seamlessly communicate with the user’s phone. Players acquire cards, representing different units, and form a synergistic army with them. Once the physical cards have been arranged on a surface, the characters come alive and battle your opponent’s army in real-time on the phone. Only through strategy, planning, and a little luck, can someone overcome others and be declared the winner.


Verge Consulting 2020 Highlight: Megan Gao

Working as a business consultant at Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurships and Innovation and Connecticut Small Business Development Center draws a satisfactory ending to my first year of Full-time MBA program at UCONN.

Before pursuing my MBA degree, I had earned Master and Bachelor degree of Mechanical Engineering from TOP 5 universities in China. As a graduate researcher, I managed multiple projects regarding product design and optimization based on thorough data analysis. After graduation, I joined a leadership program in a local government in China to explore another world: digital marketing, public relations management, and communication. I also have three-year expatriate experience in the EU and the USA. This equips me with an international vision and a global mindset.

Concentrated on business analytics and digital marketing, I want to apply what I learned from classes to the real business world together with my analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. Verge Consulting Program provides a great opportunity. There are different amazing startups covering a wide range of domains, including technology, consulting, eCommerce, pharma, fashion, etc.

After several weeks, what I gained is more than what I expected. I not only honed my marketing and financing skills but also, I learned from the startups how to implement a brilliant idea into execution. It is really rewarding that I can add value to their business. Besides, it is a great platform to work as a team and to develop leadership skills.