Arizona State University’s Venture Devils works to support ASU-affiliated and community-based entrepreneurs, including the sports safety-focused Force Impact Technologies.
“We are a company created by athletes, for athletes. Our goal is to leverage technology to improve the safety of sports,” Anthony Gonzales, Force Impact Technologies co-founder and Arizona State University (ASU) alumnus, said.
Its FITGuard mouthguard features embedded technology sensors and a notification system that interacts with an electronic health records system to help sports organizations manage the risk of head injuries.
“Venture Devils has been very helpful in connecting us with mentors, keeping us aware of fundraising opportunities, allowing us to connect with larger corporations that we may not have been able to connect with on our own,” Gonzales said.
Force Impact Technologies is one of the program’s community-based ventures, meaning it is separate from ASU but is still involved with Venture Devils and has access to its support and resources.
“As ASU values and supports the impact of the University to the local and regional economy, it is a part of the Venture Devils mission to encourage community-based entrepreneurs and small businesses,” Brittany Martin, Venture Development program manager, said.
“By leveraging the many resources ASU has to offer, our program provides a spaces network such as on and off-campus co-working and maker spaces, a mentor network and potential for seed funding for all participating Venture Devils companies,” Martin said. “These services are in place to support our community entrepreneurs with the overarching objective of providing the fuel for a thriving regional entrepreneurship ecosystem.”
Participants who join the program as ASU students or faculty receive more funding than the community-based ventures, but the program still aims to assist community-based ventures in their development and alert them of financial opportunities.
Force Impact Technologies was founded in Los Angeles, California and Tempe, Arizona and its presence in Tempe has helped the company grow.
Gonzales said Arizona is “a very diverse population and I don’t think that’s always appreciated. Arizona itself is one of the most accurate reflections of what the entire United States looks like because it is so diverse.”
He added, “So, it’s the ideal testing ground for beta testing your product with the idea that if you were to extrapolate, it would be a fairly accurate reflection of what the rest of the country would feel.”
Being in Tempe, Force Impact Technologies can also benefit from its proximity to postsecondary institutions such as ASU, Grand Canyon University and Maricopa County Community Colleges.
“The talent pool and the labor pool available because of the proximity to these large universities makes developing product cheaper,” Gonzales said.
It also allows businesses, including early-stage startups, to connect with the talent the universities produce.