Five new cadet companies are well into basic conditioning in the Austin Technology Incubator’s second annual Student Entrepreneurship Acceleration and Launch (SEAL) program. This year’s five SEAL teams, all founded and run by University of Texas students, got their feet wet Wednesday, June 9, day one of their formal training.
- Wibole, Inc., boasts a technology to enable “multi-hopping,” or relaying radio waves across several mobile phones to establish a stronger signal with the nearest tower.
- AstraSight is developing a pair of glasses equipped with ultrasound to sense obstacles the blind or vision impaired would miss with a standard cane.
- SpectraPhase, an Idea2Product 2010 winner, looks to replace finger-pricking blood-glucose tests with a real-time glucose monitor that would connect to intravenous catheters, a critical issue in intensive care units where 40 percent of deaths are attributable to stress diabetes.
- Ordoro provides a web-based order management platform for retailers to more efficiently process orders, organize inventory and manage purchasing.
- RBK Instruments is developing a device to use optical detection to measure the thickness of body fat layers and give an overall body-fat-percentage reading.
On day one, each team took twenty minutes before their SEAL mentors to give an elevator pitch of their technology and present what they saw as their startup’s three most threatening potential deal killers. The presentation and introduction to their mentors is the start of their summer-long training. At the end of the summer each of the five SEAL’s will make a formal decision whether to continue building their company or officially withdraw from the race.
“The SEAL program is the mechanism to force entrepreneurs through a real-world go/no-go decision that would justify them doing this full-time,” SEAL director and ATI-IT and –Wireless director Bart Bohn said. “For some, this is the last time they can hear no without the opportunity cost being too high. I don’t expect them all to go forward.”
The mentors encouraged and objected throughout each presentation, stopping the student entrepreneurs to help them identify patterns and pinpoint what they saw as the primary threats to their success. Concerns ranged from intellectual-property attainability to whether or not the group’s market aim is on target to a simple need for a working prototype to test with end users.
The members that participated in the kick-off session are seasoned in counseling entrepreneurs and bring varied industry experience. The group included Santé Ventures senior associate Omar Khalil, UT associate professor and Wireless Networking and Communications Group director Jeff Andrews, former ATI-Bioscience director Jessica Hanover, senior bioscience executive Steve Andrade, Rapid Attainment founder Jeremy Friedlander, ATI director Isaac Barchas, ATI-operations director Aruni Gunasegaram, ATI-IT and -Wireless director Bart Bohn and ATI-Clean Energy director Mitch Jacobson. Over the course of the summer, each team will work with numerous other domain-specific mentors to assess the potential threats and make the go/no-go decision on their company.
On Thursday, July 29, each company will present and discuss with their mentors what they learned and hear their recommendations on moving forward.