The University of Arizona’s McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship last month hosted the Bear Down & Pitch 2019 competition where student teams presented their own business ventures to Arizona entrepreneurs.
The competitors were judged by Co-founder and Chairman of Startup AZ Foundation Mario Martinez II, the CEO of Wild Tonic, Holly Lyman, and Jupiter Research founder Mark Scatterday.
The judges selected Exakt Technology as the winner of the competition and recipient of the $5,000 prize.
Kelly Jiang, Mitcheel Torres, Scott Kottmer and Taylor Hunter are the student masterminds behind the prize-winning venture. Jiang and Torres focused on the business issues while Kottmer and Hunter handled the engineering part of the venture.
The team is working to develop a product that will change the diagnostic process for heart arrhythmias.
“The product we were trying to develop was a continuous wearable EKG shirt,” Jiang said. “Right now, the device that doctors would use is really uncomfortable for patients, and so none of them really want to wear it and they can’t collect as much data as they need. So, we were trying to change that.”
She explained that the team members knew they wanted to develop a medical device because it can help people.
“We wanted to build some kind of medical [device] because I feel like any advancements in the medical industry is great because it can help a lot of people feel better,” Jiang said.
“After doing research and talking to people, we identified that some people who have to use heart monitors pointed out the problems like [being] uncomfortable,” Torres said. “And, then we came up with the idea to create a new EKG monitor that way it can be more reliable and also comfortable to the people wearing it.”
Jiang explained that at first, she was not sure if the McGuire Center and the pitch competition were the right fit for her. However, she ended up learning valuable lessons throughout the process and is glad she participated.
“I learned the importance of building a good team and really just finding people that can supplement my own weaknesses and bring out the strengths that I do have,” Jiang said.
She added, “I also liked learning about the process, an entrepreneurial thought process like putting together a business plan, what people want to know when you ask for an investment– that helps a lot.”
While Jiang learned the value of a strong team and the entrepreneurial thought process, Torres realized there is more than one career path he should consider.
“I came in from the business school, [so] my first thought was to try and work for a big corporation or big firm, but now I have a different perspective,” Torres said. “I think small businesses or creating your own business can create a lot of value not just for you, but for other people around you.”
The Exakt Technology team members are approaching graduation and are going down different paths, but they are committed to continuing this business venture.