entrepreneurship


Summer Fellowship Feature Series: Transit2College

Last up in our Summer Fellowship Feature Series we have Transit to College. “We like to describe our product as the Uber for tutors. We are in the process of creating a mobile application which connects students and tutors on demand through our platform. Our product will enable universities to extend their tutoring services, as well as enable them to gain valuable insights into where their academic gaps are. Since we are for students by students, we know the struggle kids face to pay for college so we created this product as a way for active college students to gain income and help pay for college. Our ultimate goal is to help students learn new knowledge, as well as earn money.” – Ankit Sani

 

They hope to gain knowledge in market and industry analysis which will help in developing a market entry strategy for their startup. They will then use this knowledge to get their business off the ground and into the hands of universities across the country.


Summer Fellowship Feature: Jubian

In the summer of 2018, two college students journeyed to the west coast, only to find themselves yearning for a taste of home. They began cooking for one another, whipping up dishes that made home feel just a bit closer and the world just a bit smaller.

 

Jubian is a cross-cultural grocery delivery platform that brings ethnic delicacies to your doorstep. Whether you are hundreds of miles from home or wish you were, we’re here to help you travel that distance, right from the comfort of your dining room table. 

 

“Food is a language we all speak, and Jubian works to realize its full potential in dismantling cultural barriers. As a company with humble roots, we are always growing”- Ray Li, CEO of Jubian.

Summer Fellowship Feature: LEVO International

Levo International is composed of a team of industry experts, from their product development team who are experienced engineers and scientists, to students from the University of Connecticut in the departments of MIS and Engineering. Levo’s science team is led by Nate Heiden, a Phd candidate at Ohio State in Plant Pathology and  Levo’s founder is Christian Heiden who is a student at UConn and is the project lead for Summer Fellowship. 

 

Levo International came about because the Boy Scouts thought that the founder Christian Heiden’s Eagle Scout proposal was too ambitious. Christian had proposed the construction of a hydroponic greenhouse for an agency operating in Haiti, but the costs and risks associated with the project were outside what the Boy Scouts thought were prudent. Undeterred, Christian completed his Eagle Scout project building a greenhouse for his high school and then set out to do what he had always wanted to do. With the help of his parents and brothers, a plan was put together and executed to begin to bring sustainable food supply to the most desperately poor country in the Western hemisphere. Thanks to the willing participation and support of Many Hands for Haiti, Christian, Bill and Nate Heiden built a demonstration greenhouse in July of 2016 on the Many Hands compound in Pignon, Haiti. A new team of young people joined the effort and in 2017 eight hydroponic farming units were installed, starting the pilot of the Babylon system. Levo International became a formal non-profit organization in 2017. 

 

Levo has developed a distributed model of hydroponic farming which was designed to be affordable for families in Haiti. Levo’s Babylon system and Patio Garden are compact and simplified hydroponic units. They allow for high density and high yield without the need for soil and the majority of water required for traditional agriculture. Levo’s Babylon is designed for developing countries and the Patio Garden is designed to finance the Babylon systems in Haiti. The Patio system is a solar version of the Babylon system and simplifies the growing process for urban and suburban gardeners. It saves the need to weed and prepare the soil, using only 5-10 minutes of an owners day. 

 

By the conclusion of the Summer Fellowship, Levo expects to be expanding its operations both in the United States and Haiti. They are preparing for a scale-up of our facilities in Haiti and begin the process of building out our staff and team. Summer Fellowship is allowing Levo to fine-tune its brand, business model, as well as continuing our U.S. product development which will allow us to begin to reach out to donors and organizations for support in our mission. 

 

“Levo does the work it does because it recognizes the level of poverty that people face all over the world. It began because we realized we had the opportunity to develop a technology which would allow us to feed millions of people all around the globe, and Levo’s team is devoted to ending world hunger.” -Christian Heiden

Summer Fellowship Feature: Therapeutic Bandage

Therapeutic Bandage Products was created by Dr. Silbart early last year, who is an Allied Health professor at UConn. Colleen Ross and Jenna Marteka are undergraduates at UConn, who both came onto the project earlier this year. Jenna studies Molecular and Cellular Biology and has taken lead on the host/pathogen interaction studies while Colleen is a Biomedical Engineering student and studies the composition of the micro-needle technology which is utilized in our product.

 

 The business was created in response to a need for a better treatment for MRSA patients, and was inspired by an article Dr. Silbart read explaining the pains of patients and the frustration of wound care specialists in treating them. Current treatment includes high doses of antibiotics intravenously or orally, which is promoting antibiotic resistance which is a growing problem for the hospital community and beyond.  Our device caters to advanced wound care by administering therapeutics through micro-needles to treat wounds including chronic non-healing wounds and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The product itself is a small patch which has biodegradable micro-needles which are loaded with therapeutics.This means of treating skin disorders is much more targeted and efficient in delivering the drug load. The technology of the product are still being tested as we are in the very early stages of pre clinical data, but the research we have thus far is very exciting and promising. At the core of the company, we are focused on helping patients, delivering a more efficient and effective method of controlling these conditions, and over all improving the quality of life for patients who were diagnosed with MRSA. Our next step is testing the prototype on porcine explanted skin in order to demonstrate the payload capabilities of the micro-needles. 

 

Through participation in CCEI this summer our team hopes to better understand the path to market and prepare for product launching in the coming years. While the product will likely not be on the market for several years, the information we learned here will be crucial in being successful. 

 


Summer Fellowship Feature: Optimize

Team Optimize has six members: Dr. Linda Pescatello, distinguished professor in the Department of Kinesiology at UConn, Dr. Margaux Guidry, Medical Science Liaison at Servier, Dr. Yin Wu, post-doc fellow in the Department of Kinesiology at UConn, Greg Panza, PhD candidate in the Department of Kinesiology at UConn and Exercise Physiologist at Hartford Hospital, Rachel Berkowsky, Masters student in the Department of Kinesiology at UConn and Harrison Korzenowski, undergraduate student at Springfield College.

 

They are creating, “ A mobile app that will enable healthcare and exercise professionals to design an individualized evidence-based exercise prescription in 5 minutes within office hours for adults with multiple cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors.” – Yin Wu.

 

The core of the mobile app is a clinical decision support system that Dr. Pescatello has been teaching, testing and refining in her Online Exercise Prescription Certificate Course at UConn in the past 5 year among over 50 healthcare and exercise professionals.

 

They created this product for health care and exercise professionals who do not have the skill set or time to design individualized evidence-based exercise prescription to patients with multiple CVD risk factors. We want to help them perform this task within 5 minutes, even without any background or training.

 

By the end of Summer Fellowship Optimize wants to develop the minimum viable product (MVP) and  get ready to perform a beta testing study to validate the MVP.

 

 

 

 


Summer Fellowship Feature: Geyser Remediation

Geyser Remediation was legally formed in January 2019, yet the idea began in the Fall Semester of 2017 as part of a chemical engineering senior design project. We realized that it was something that was needed to help solve the PFAS problem, which is of ever more concern. We want to prevent people from getting sick due to PFAS-related illnesses. We think we have a solution and want to help. 

 

The co-founders of Geyser Remediation are Elizabeth Perry and Niko Franceschi-Hofmann, which started out as a senior design project between Niko and 3 other chemical engineers. Currently they also have an engineer, Brendan MacIntyre working with their team. Elizabeth is a Business Management Senior at UConn. Niko is a recent graduate of a dual degree in Chemical Engineering and Business Management and Brendan is a recent graduate in chemical engineering. 
 

“We are  trying to create systems for water utilities that will integrate with their existing systems as pain-free as possible to break down Per-and Poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) to below the recommended or desired limit in drinking water.” -Niko Franceschi-Hofmann

 
PFAS are found essentially everywhere due to their wide range of uses, environmental persistence, and ability to travel through air and water. PFAS are manufactured compounds commonly found in industries or products requiring non-stick, or stain resistant properties and applications. The plethora of products includes food processing equipment, food packaging, fire-fighting foams, polishes and waxes, paper plates, stain resistant fabrics/carpets, and non-stick pans. PFASs enters the water supply through these sources via a chain of events: PFASs are used in manufacturing processes, then manufacturing run-off of PFASs gets into the water supply, or the manufactured products end up in a landfill and the PFASs leach out into groundwater. This contaminated water then spreads via natural water cycle pathways, spreading the PFAS with it. Eventually, that water makes its way into drinking water treatment facilities, which are not equipped to remove PFASs, or even to detect their presence. These molecules then bio-accumulate in human bodies, because our bodies cannot break them down, or flush them out easily. They tend to build up in the body faster than they are removed, which can exacerbate the health effects perpetrated by PFASs such as various cancers, low birth weights, and immune system interference, among a host of other issues.

 

By the end of the Summer Fellowship, we hope to have proof-of-concept and completed our second prototype. We also hope to secure additional funding and be a serious contender in the running for an EPA SBIR Grant. 

Summer Fellowship Feature: Phoenix Tailings

Phoenix Tailings first started working together on a ventrue in September of 2018, but was officially founded in January of 2019 by four members: Mike Martin, Nick Myers, Thomas Villalon and Michelle Chao.

Their company provides both a service as well as products. The service is industrial waste (Bauxite Residue AKA Red Mud) removal and complete disposal. The products are raw materials derived from all of the individual components of the separated industrial waste, like iron and rare earth elements.

Phoenix Tailings started developing their waste separating process because they saw that the Bauxite Residue waste represented a huge opportunity that could grant access to the useful and valuable materials locked inside of it. It just so happens that eliminating Bauxite Residue has the added bonus of being great for the environment. They then realized that there can be a new type of environmentalism which seeks solutions that are not only best for the environment, but are also best for the companies’ bottom line. “We want to change the world for the better by solving problems in ways everyone can be excited about”. – Michael Martin

By the end of the summer they hope to be finished with their proof of concept and have a well developed understanding of their customers’ needs on the product side of their business in order to proceed to the next stage of their company’s development.

 


Summer Fellowship Feature: Land Maverick

 

Land Maverick started in May of 2017, used as a senior design project for Emily Yale’s undergraduate work, and then took a pause in 2018.

 

Land Maverick has four engineers and one business student behind it right now. Everyone brings a different skill set and background to the table, wrapped up in a lot of passion to see a product through from inception to market. 

 

We build autonomous measuring robots, which collect soil data, to help golf courses and farms have an easier time managing their property. 

 

By the end of Summer Fellowship, we hope to have our 3rd prototype completed and have ironed out a significant number of assumptions in our business plan. “I am extremely happy to have the special opportunity to work on this project full time with mentorship and support from UCONN”. -Emily Yale

Summer Fellowship Feature Series : Nami Therapeutics

To start off our Summer Fellowship 2019 Feature Series, Nami Therapeutics Corporation is our first highlight participating in our extensive eight week summer program.

 

Nami Therapeutics Corp (’Nami’) is a startup company based in Storrs, CT and currently in the Technology Incubation Program at the University of Connecticut.

 

Nami was founded in February of 2018 by Dr. Xiuling Lu, CEO, Dr. Michael Jay, Chief Scientist, Dr. David Worthen, Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Andrew Salner, Clinical Advisor, Ruobing Xia, Chief Commercial Officer, and Summer Fellowships Derek Hargrove, Entrepreneurial Lead and Sterling Glass.

 

Nami is developing specifically designed nanoparticles for the targeted delivery of therapeutic agents, including radio-therapeutics, to tumors. Nami (which mean ‘nano’ in Mandarin) is using technologies licensed from the University of Connecticut and the University of North Carolina.

 

In the words of Derek Hargrove, “Our experienced team is focused on tumor-specific nanoparticle platforms to largely improve delivery efficiency, treatment efficiency and product safety. One novel product is radiotherapeutic nanoparticles containing the beta particle-emitting isotope holmium-166 (Ho-166) for the treatment of peritoneal metastasis through intraperitoneal (i.p.) administration. The Ho-166 nanoparticles are produced by a neutron activation process that minimizes the handling of these highly radioactive nanoparticles. We have demonstrated the predominant accumulation of Ho-166 nanoparticles in tumors after i.p. administration to ovarian tumor-bearing mice, resulting in a reduction in tumor burden and prolonged survival. Despite advances in treatment strategies, peritoneal metastasis remains the primary cause of morbidity and mortality in ovarian cancer. With 239,000 women diagnosed worldwide each year, ovarian cancer is the 7th most common cancer in women and has a five-year relative survival rate only 28%. It accounts for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. Our immediate goal is to advance the Ho-166 product toward clinical trials by demonstrating its safety and efficacy in preclinical animal models.

 

By the conclusion of Summer Fellowship, Nami Therapeutics is looking to strengthen their business plan and develop a robust strategy for communicating their value to investors and industry collaborators so they are able to fund preclinical toxicity studies, the investigational device exemption (IDE) application for clinical trials, and GMP manufacturing of their product. They would also like to gain legal counsel for patent licensing and IDE filing by the end of the summer, while beginning to develop their clinical study design. 

Why I spent my summer with Verge

Why the Verge Consulting Program?

Similar to many MBA students, I had a special interest in joining a consulting firm in the summer. I thought the chance and responsibility to work with external clients would serve as an excellent learning opportunity for my future career aspirations. I enjoy seeing how business work and wanted to utilize my analytical skills and business knowledge to solve complex business problems and generate significant impact on the client’s firms. In addition, I was keen to implement, in the real business environment, the most relevant business concepts I had learned in-class during the first year of my MBA. My expectations of the Verge Program were exceeded.  I was exposed to firms at different life cycle stages and from across industries provided the me and the team multiple challenges that not only expanded hands-on learning, but also improved our skillset.

Projects and Team Dynamics

Our team worked on multiple projects with clients ranging from early stage startups trying to find the most appropriate business model to established companies expanding their business. Their industries include healthcare, medical devices, consumer products, and construction. Accompanied by SBDC Advisors, the first step of a project included meeting with the client to gain better understanding of their objectives and challenges. Then we would come up with a scope of work describing what deliverables we would later provide to the client. Next, the team would extensively discuss potential approaches to overcome business problems and drive business growth (as we had done many times in classroom during the first year of the MBA program). During the project execution phase, we relied on multiple business research database to gather and analyze information. The deliverable included a final presentation to the client, which was my favorite part of this experience. Many times, the relationship with the client transcends the scope of work itself. Noticing the entrepreneur’s passion for the business is contagious and inspiring.  Knowing that we actually have the chance to contribute to their success is priceless.

Skillset development

Overall, I was mostly engaged in activities involving creating strategies for customer acquisition and customer conversion, which requires extensive market research and analysis. In addition, I learned startup valuation and finance modeling, both of which were new to me. However, the most valuable skill I learned as a Verge Consultant was to validate business hypotheses using a data-driven approach. The resources available at Verge Consulting paired with the solid business foundation gained through the first year of the MBA Program allowed me and the team to effectively make insight-driven recommendations to drive business decisions.

https://ccei.uconn.edu/programs/verge/

This post was written by:

Murillo Silva
MBA, Class of 2019

UConn School of Business