Two student startups reach finals in national business competition
Carbon Origins and Everykey, companies started by Case Western Reserve University students and alumni, were finalists in the first Blackstone LaunchPad Demo Day—a national entrepreneurship contest in New York City.
“It’s a phenomenal showing for our entrepreneurship efforts on campus,” said Bob Sopko, director of Case Western Reserve’s Blackstone LaunchPad, an on-campus business incubator that helps students and alumni launch new businesses.
Case Western Reserve sent the second-most teams to the event, with three among the competition’s 20 finalists.
Carbon Origins took third place and a $10,000 prize to invest in its flagship technology Apollo, a 2.5-square-inch device that can be attached to almost any object to record data with sensors, GPS, WiFi and other features.
Everykey finished in the top seven. The startup offers wristbands that replace passwords for devices, such as phones and tablets.
SensID showcased its original software and device that helps train nurses for the operating room.
Each startup also met with potential investors and networked with representatives from their respective industries during a dinner at the New York Stock Exchange.
“Investors are showing interest,” said Sopko. “The connections each company made in New York will be key moving forward.”
Starting as a student rocket club on campus, Carbon Origins grew into a company that designs on-board computer technology. The startup took a break from conducting tests in the Mojave Desert to compete in Demo Day.
“This event was the perfect opportunity to refine our product and messaging. To win third place helps validate all the work we’ve invested in our company and sets the stage for our future,” said Amogha Srirangarajan of Carbon Origins, a senior engineering student on leave to concentrate on the company.
“It was such an honor to be selected as a finalist,” said Chris Wentz, CEO of Everykey and a 2013 Case Western Reserve computer science graduate. “When we arrived in New York and saw the other companies that were invited, we felt lucky to be selected, as all of them were impressive.”
The contest also coincided with the launch of Everykey’s month-long campaign to raise $100,000 on Kickstarter to begin production of first line of wristbands.
“It was inspiring to see students with the same passion and determination to make a positive difference,” said Alexis Schilf of SensID, a junior biomedical engineering student from Chicago. “The competition brought out the best in everyone.”
SensID currently is finishing the latest prototype of its device by December and will test it with nursing students at University Hospitals in the spring, Schilf said.
Demo Day was hosted by Blackstone, a private financial services corporation that manages more than $250 billion in assets worldwide.
Wash Cycle Laundry—a door-to-door bicycling-based dry cleaning service from Philadelphia—won first place and $25,000.
Of the 15 Blackstone LaunchPads on campuses nationwide, Northeast Ohio is home to four: Kent State University, Baldwin Wallace University and Lorain County Community College; Case Western Reserve opened its outpost in 2013.
Other companies in the competition hailed from the University of California, Los Angeles; University of Central Florida; the University of Miami and others.
Blackstone LaunchPad at Case Western Reserve is funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation.