By Georgia Parmelee
Upon stepping into the Egyptian Ballroom at the Fox Theater, you could instantly feel the buzz and energy of the room, as more than 600 Georgia Tech students, faculty, alumni, friends and corporate sponsors gathered for the 2017 CREATE-X Startup Launch Demo Day.
So what exactly is CREATE-X? It’s an innovation program that puts students on the path to launching a startup business, teaching valuable lessons in entrepreneurialism along the way. Demo Day is the culmination of Startup Launch, where students take their ideas to the real world, and occurs once a year to kick off the fall semester. It features all the work students have been doing for the past 12 months. Students pitch their ideas in a similar manner to Shark Tank, but without the harsh judges and bidding wars. Since its inception four years ago, Startup Launch has created more than 70 student startups.
Of the innovation and talent showcased on Demo Day, 31 of the presenting students came out of Tech’s College of Engineering (11 ME, 11 EE, 5 ISyE, 3 BME and 1 MSE, representing almost every school). Twenty-four startups took to the stage, representing a range of industries, from automotive to music to healthcare. Each pitch lasted about two minutes – enough time for the audience to understand the goal of each company. Pitches are extremely important when looking for seed money, and can make or break a company’s investment options. Students were coached over the past year by a team of seasoned entrepreneurs and professors on how to deliver a successful pitch, and it showed on stage during the presentations. Presenters were poised, confident and focused.
According to Dr. Raghupathy Sivakumar, founding director of CREATE-X, the teams are getting better and better each year.
“One of the signs of the maturity of the program is that more than one third of the startups that presented at Demo Day already have paying customers,” said Dr. Sivakumar. “Students are realizing that Startup Launch is a great opportunity to spend a summer working on their own startups instead of interning at a larger company."
Here are a few memorable companies that are well on their way to seeing success.
BoxFynder deals with a common consumer problem. You sign up for a subscription service and then have no idea how to cancel it. BoxFynder not only offers consumers access to one site that holds every subscription box on the market (think Dollar Shave Club, Bark Box, BirchBox), but the company also makes cancellation seamless. For this startup, it’s all about the customer experience in an age where there is a subscription for everything.
TopTime Coffee has already become a crowd favorite with its pop-up coffee cart making appearances all around Atlanta. This startup provides a fully customizable microroaster for coffee enthusiasts. After discovering that flavor profiling machines were extremely expensive, the team at TopTime Coffee decided to make their own. Its name is Bean Daddy. A customer can create a unique flavor of craft-roasted coffee from this homemade machine. “We are changing the way Atlanta does coffee,” said Nolan Hall, ME ’17 and startup co-founder. “And we couldn’t think of anything more representative of being an engineer.”
StemPower is a mentoring program startup that encourages young women to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education by building classroom confidence. The first time Kenzy Mina, BME ’19 and startup co-founder, realized there was a gender gap in STEM education, it was in high school. She was told that for men, it’s a natural ability, but for women to be successful they have to try really hard. Mina also noticed that young girls in school lacked relatable role models. That’s when she came up with the idea for StemPower to nurture young women and girls who have an interest and passion for STEM. The startup has already seen success through a partnership with Girl Scouts of America, with Mina and her team inspiring young girls across the country.
InvitroScan identifies invading pathogens, like Sepsis, in sick patients using novel biochemical receptors. Today, sepsis is the deadliest disease in hospitals with a 30% mortality rate, which gave the team at InvitroScan their startup idea. Kyle Murray, BME ’18, and his team have developed a diagnostic tool for sepsis that is 100 times faster than existing tests today. It takes 20 minutes, which can make a big difference when minutes count for this deadly disease. Atlanta-based healthcare organizations are already exploring the test and recognize great promise, and the startup looks forward to more partnerships in the future.
Induviae is a personal styling application that understands your wardrobe so it can recommend outfits that match your taste and style. The fashion startup takes services like Truck Club and Stitch Fix a step further by helping you get dressed based on weather and schedule. A customer is sent a capsule wardrobe that they rent for 25 days with only 12 pieces of clothing. And with these 12 pieces, a customer can create more than 30 outfits. Induviae is all about minimizing your choices to create great fashion that’s functional.