DECEMBER 9, 2021 — A select group of UTSA students pitched their innovative solutions to address some of society’s grandest challenges at the 2021 Big Rowdy Idea Finals on Thursday, December 2.
Six teams comprised of UTSA undergraduate and graduate students presented their ideas to a panel of judges representing San Antonio’s entrepreneurial community.
The judges considered the idea and the viability of each business case to select the winners.
T4 Movement won first place and an $8,000 cash prize. Their “Biolab in a Box” captures data from 2D cameras. These advanced cameras create highly accurate biomechanical analysis that helps pinpoint the root cause of a patient’s back pain. The team of graduate students included Tony Treser, who is founder and CEO of the company, along with Nayab Ali and Emmanuel Oluga.
Their inspiration came from Treser’s personal experience with back pain, which began with a sports injury in high school. Treser said the pain continued and became so unbearable that he quit his position as a tech account executive, which required extensive traveling. He enrolled at UTSA to pursue his master’s in biomedical technology commercialization. While attending UTSA, he saw an opportunity to advance the invention through the Big Rowdy Idea competition.
“Working with a team and building our business case with the help of a very smart mentor has been an incredible experience,” Treser said. “Winning the first-place award for our vision to help people with back pain through our unique approach is a huge confidence booster for T4 Movement as we go forward.”
One of the benefits of Big Rowdy Idea is having access to mentors who guide teams at every step of the project. T4 Movement is working with Zachary Bujnoch, a health care innovator and founder of Bujnoch Consulting. One day, a device designed to help millions of people suffering from back pain could effectively be launched because of UTSA’s Big Rowdy Idea competition.
“Through this year’s competition, it’s obvious there’s a lot of entrepreneurial talent at UTSA. Through the Office for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship, we want to grow that base by encouraging students from all the colleges to participate in Big Rowdy Idea,” said Randy Quinn, the office’s executive director. “Congratulations to T4 Movement and all of the contestants for competing. The judges were very impressed with the caliber of all of the entries.”
This year, two teams tied for second place, and each won a $3,000 cash prize. First Watch developed a smart watch device for high-risk people who are elderly or disabled. It detects serious health problems and calls first responders if the wearer is unconscious.
Team members included Yohannes Akiel, Tristan Pepper, Jesus Guillen, Rylee Lippenholz, Dylan Watson and Ikram Ahmad. Mechanical engineering professor Lyle Hood and biomedical engineering professor Teja Guda were the faculty advisors. Juan Sebastian Garzon, executive director of Alamo Angels, served as the team’s community mentor. Alamo Angels is an exclusive group of business leaders and corporate sponsors who promote local business growth.
Also taking second place was Prestige Worldwide for their idea to develop affordable eyeglasses that intubated quadriplegics can use to communicate. Team members include Andrew Perez, Emma Yanoviak, Cameron Peterson, and Zach Luong.
HelioSucrose placed third and earned a $1,500 prize. Their concept involved building modular drop-in-place EV charging stations for large companies to support EV fleets without relying on the electric grid or taking up extra space. The charging stations would be powered by solar panels and batteries that last up to 25 years. Connor Gallagher-Moore and Randy Klepetko comprise the HelioSucrose team.
Other competitors included RDR Recycling. RDR stands for “Reduce. Digest. Reuse.” The team wants to create a more sustainable way to recycle plastics by using mealworms for biodegradation. RDR Recycling consists of Paloma Cerda, Abhay Asokan and Kimberly Delfosse.
SleepSound Therapeutics pitched their Naptracker. The device features a pulse oximeter sensor mask with a docking station to accurately track valuable sleep data for people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Its team members are Jose Calderon, Ashley Larwick, Natnael Abraha and Iyanuoluwa (John) Ojediran.
“I really liked how business and engineering students worked closely together on their products rather than functioning separately. This is very different than previous years,” said judge Ileana Gonzalez ’16, a venture associate at Boulder, Colorado-based TechStars. “I’m also seeing a lot of undergraduates mesh with graduate students, which adds a refreshing and different perspective. I love the diversity in the teams.”
Phillip Hernandez, chief operating officer of the entrepreneurial think tank Geekdom, and David Fonseca, executive vice president of the San Antonio tech incubator VelocityTX, both announced at the end of the competition that they were so impressed with every team that they offered all competitors a three-month membership to their organizations as an additional perk.
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