Student teams from across the university competed to win more than $47,000 in prizes at the 23rd annual HopStart: Hopkins New Venture Challenge held Friday, April 28, on Johns Hopkins' Homewood campus. Months of preparation went into the day, with teams writing full business plans and receiving mentorship from industry professionals beginning in mid-February.
The students pitched their startup ideas, including a financial literacy program for teenagers, a mobile application that can assess concussion risk in patients with head injuries, and a venture aimed at improving the resilience of municipal water infrastructure through predictive analytics, over the event's two rounds of competition.
More than 20 judges, many of them Johns Hopkins alumni, evaluated those pitches and selected winners from the 35 competing teams—first, second, and third place in each of the competition's four categories.
Kevin A. Anderson, Maryland's current secretary of commerce, delivered the keynote address at the competition's awards ceremony in the Glass Pavilion. He encouraged students to pursue their startup ideas beyond the competition, noting that this year's student teams were the economic future of Maryland.
"This is an extraordinary opportunity for our students," said Pam Sheff, director of the Whiting School of Engineering's Center for Leadership Education, which hosted the event. "The attention to detail, the quality of presentations are all a wonderful demonstration of the talent we have at Hopkins. You can see how much the students absorbed and applied the feedback from their mentors to their work. This event is exemplary of one of the things we do extraordinary well at Hopkins: To take that innate talent, brilliance, and determination our students bring to us and provide the education and experiences that allow those traits to blossom into value."
Students from the Whiting School of Engineering walked away with top prizes in the four main categories: General Ventures I and II and Medical Technology and Life Sciences I and II. First-place teams received $5,000, second-place teams won $3,000, and third-place teams won $1,000.
General Ventures I: Team Tastee Tape, an edible tape designed to hold burritos and wraps together, allowing for a mess-free eating experience. The tape is clear with no noticeable taste or texture, so that it blends seamlessly into a meal. Team members: Marie Eric and Tyler Guarino.
General Ventures II: Team Dwell, a platform aiming to connect renters and landlords to establish medium-term rentals of one month to one year. Team members: Sahnya Abdulla, Sara Chopra, Hanusha Durisety, Oluwakayode Jasanya, Niles Pierson, Niles Pierson, and Jenny Zwerling.
Medical Technology and Life Science Ventures I: Team SomnOSA, a novel neurostimulation therapy for a highly prevalent, untreated phenotype of obstructive sleep apnea. Team members: Phoebe Dijour, Shri Prabha Shivram, Anders Sideris, and Mitchell Turley.
Medical Technology and Life Science Ventures II: Team OnPoint Ventilation, which aims to revolutionize cardiothoracic surgery with its device, the Bronchosleeve. Team members: Sneha Batheja, Alexandra Gorham, Ria Jha, Nina Nair, Arijit Nukala, and Krisha Thakur.
Aquapitas, which seeks to improve the resilience of municipal water infrastructure through predictive analytics, allocating resources more efficiently, lowering total future costs on the water provider, and providing end users with safe and predictable service. Team members: Kathy Cao, Ricky Cheng, Adriana Peña, William Rong, and Alexander Rovalino.
Peer Connect, a platform that connects international students to past and current students from their university, who can share information on courses, housing, finances, and immigration, offering personalized support and guidance. Team members: Nethra Perli, Parikshit Ranjeet Raje, Urvi Rawat, Jinay Shah, and Husnaa Shareef Shahid.
HopStone Capital, a student-led venture capital organization sponsored by the Center for Leadership Education, awarded two teams, Aquapitas and Tastee Tape, $5,000 each for their startup ideas.