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Skandalaris Invests $25k in Promising New WashU Startups

Sydney Everett (Staff)
April 27, 2021

The winners have been selected in the Spring 2021 Skandalaris Venture Competition. Over eleven weeks, these teams worked with the Skandalaris Center along with a panel of mentors to develop their pitches. On April 26th, the SVC finalists shared their financial projects and pitch slides to our distinguished judges who evaluated the teams on their presentations of the venture’s problem, solution, target customer, value proposition, industry trends, minimally viable product or service, financial modeling, traction, team, and overall presentation.

Through generous support from Skandalaris National Council member Kishore Kanakamedala and David Mandell the following teams were awarded a combined total of $25,000.

The First Place SVC trophy and $10,000 cash prize was awarded to HIVE Medical, Inc. HIVE incorporates a wireless sensor into IV lines to improve medication adherence and prevent expensive unplanned readmissions. Reflecting on HIVE’s SVC participation team member Joe Beggs (Biomedical Engineering, McKelvey School of Engineering Class of 2020) shared, “it’s allowed us to get some feedback throughout the proves instead of just one and done… my team also had a really good opportunity to grow throughout the process.” HIVE is in the process of building its beta prototype and working on a regulatory strategy. They are expecting an office action on their IP later this year. 

Second place and $7,500 was awarded to Salentra Biosciences, a company that has developed a new technology capable of secreting insulin in response to glucose. The team is comprised of Leonardo Velazco-Cruz (Ph.D. candidate in the DBBS program, School of Medicine graduating December 2021) and Punn Augsornworawat. Leonardo shared that following SVC Salentra is “looking to launch our product around August and then start looking for around $300,000 of seed funding to help pay our salaries and our raw material for making our product.”

SafeBeat Rx received third place and a $5,000 cash prize. SafeBeat Rx is developing technology that aims to expand access to important (at times, life-saving) heart medications. Team members include Rachita Navara, MD (Division of Cardiology) and Kunj Patel, MD, MSc. For SafeBeat Rx, "SVC is a really validating experience,” said Dr. Navara. “Being able to convey to an audience, not in healthcare, the importance of what we are doing and how we can impact our patients is really motivating for us to continue on this journey.”

Rounding out the winners with an honorable mention award and $2,500 prize is Jellie Rhodes Group. Founded by Angelica Harris (Finance, Olin School of Business and Computer Science, McKelvey School of Engineering, Class of 2021), Jellie Rhodes is an algorithm that personalizes ACT and SAT training for high school students. Following SVC Angelica will be pitching Jellie Rhodes to the St. Louis Public School board and will be finishing her web app this summer.

“The judges had their hands full with so many dedicated WashU startups to evaluate as the Skandalaris team shattered the record for the number of entries in this competition,” share II Luscri, Managing Director of the Skandalaris Center and Assistant Vice Provost for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis. “I am proud of the student and alumni teams and can’t thank the Skandalaris entrepreneurial ecosystem enough for what they do to support and propel these founders and companies forward.”

The Skandalaris Venture Competition winners were announced at the WashU Entrepreneurship Awards on April 27, 2021. Applications for the Fall 2021 Skandalaris Venture Competition will open in the fall.