MAY 5, 2021 — Most UTSA graduates with a biomedical engineering degree look to enter the professional world or pursue postgraduate aspirations. Once again in her life, Devanshi Patel is choosing the path less traveled.
After graduation from UTSA this month, Devanshi will enter the exciting but uncertain world of entrepreneurship. Business is in her blood, but it was UTSA’s premium on experiential learning that sparked an idea to develop a medical product she hopes will not only help but encourage.
Devanshi, along with three fellow students, entered UTSA’s fall 2020 Big Rowdy Ideas competition for aspiring entrepreneurs. They formed a company called Tranquility Therapeutics. Their first product is the Triple P Relief, a unique device that helps people who cope with anxiety. Many of the Tranquility Therapeutics team deal with this condition, and they wanted to offer a simple yet effective product to support people who experience panic attacks.
“It’s a breathing channel designed to help someone overcome hyperventilation when having a panic attack,” Devanshi said. “It’s drug-free, noninvasive and could be an excellent alternative to pharmaceuticals, which are the most common treatment for anxiety disorders, which many patients have become reliant on for years.
Product research included survey data from more than 30 patients who suffer from panic disorders. She credits her biomedical engineering education to help her relatively inexperienced business team take a product from concept to reality.
“As engineers, we have to learn a little of everything, which includes research, which was a key part in developing this product,” Devanshi explained.
Triple P Relief earned some early success. It won second place at the Big Rowdy Ideas competition. The company also obtained $2,000 in funding from Quality of Life Plus along with an additional $1,500 in funding from UTSA’s Rowdy Tank Sponsorship. While these dollars help, much more is needed for large-scale distribution.
Tranquility Therapeutics is seeking an initial $100,000 investment for FDA approval and other startup costs. UTSA’s annual $100K Venture Technology Competition was an excellent opportunity to propel Tranquility Therapeutics. The team leveraged lessons learned from their second-place finish at Big Rowdy Ideas, and refined their product prototype and business plan. This approach paid off as Tranquility Therapeutics won the top prize.
The $100,000 prize pool includes $5,000 in cash along with professional services and mentoring. Devanshi thinks winning Tech Venture will help attract more seed money.
“It’s great having this group of judges from Tech Venture validate your device because that gives us confidence to market our product to additional investors,” she said.
Earning a college degree comes with time, sacrifice and significant financial investment. Some parents might have serious reservations about their child passing up steady employment for the uncertain world of entrepreneurship, but not Devanshi’s.
“I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so they’re all for it and feel like I’m prepared to pursue it,” she said. “My parents are my biggest cheerleaders. They motivate me to do a lot more than I think I can.”
The path less taken means more than starting your own business after college. For Devanshi, there’s also strong motivation to serve as an example for other females in her native country of India, where she says gender inequality is prevalent. Migrating to America opened doors for her family to pursue a better life. Being a first-generation college student is an opportunity she does not take for granted.
“I come from an area where girls usually don’t pursue higher education, so that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to major in biomedical engineering and get involved with entrepreneurship,” she said. “Those are opportunities still lacking in my country for females, and I want to inspire them to pursue their dreams as well.”
In addition to family encouragement, Devanshi is appreciative to UTSA faculty for their support. In particular, she credits Kathryn Mayer, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, for serving as an important mentor.
“She’s been a big role model and encouraged me to pursue opportunities at UTSA,” Devanshi said. “I’ve been fortunate to have Dr. Mayer accept me in her lab and allow me to help with her research. Because of her, I was able to co-author four research papers.”
Devanshi graduates from UTSA with a bachelor in biomedical engineering, confident and eager to be a role model for other females. She also understands the name of the game when it comes to business.
“Hopefully, Tranquility Therapeutics is able to establish a good reputation by launching it in online marketplaces and mental health care practitioner offices,” she said. “Our goal is to keep the cost under $100 while maintaining 80% profit and one day licensing the product to a competitor.”
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