During Global Entrepreneurship Week, Pittsburgh university students pitched music tech, medical devices and more - Technical.ly Pittsburgh

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During Global Entrepreneurship Week, Pittsburgh university students pitched music tech, medical devices and more

The competition featured tech-centered startup ideas in areas like greeting cards, road safety and online communities. It was a showcase of Pittsburgh's young and emerging talent.

The Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh.

(Photo by Flickr user Tony Webster, used via a Creative Commons license)

As part of this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Pittsburgh chapter of the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) held a pitch competition for undergraduate and graduate students from local universities. PDMA, which also has a national-level pitch competition every year, helps local entrepreneurs network and innovate with a focus on product development.

While not limited to tech, the pitch competition included several students across the 12 teams with business ideas relating to software, medical devices, driving safety and more. The four winners of the competition — best undergraduate, best graduate, overall best in show and honorable mention — receive access to resources from PDMA and its sponsoring companies, as well as mentorship from those sponsors on intellectual property, product development and other business strategies.

Here are the six teams with tech-related pitches, along with the three winners of the annual competition. The full recording of the competition is available here.

Allegro, University of Pittsburgh (undergraduate)

As a musician and songwriter, Allegro founder Shreya Wadehra pitched the company’s flagship app as a combination of music recording technology and a platform that teaches users how to advance their recording skills, making the entire process cheaper and more accessible to someone interested in the field. The hope, she said, is that creating an app with recording capabilities and tutorials on how to use them that can work across mobile devices and computers will streamline the often complicated process of recording and producing music at home. Allegro was notably a finalist in the 2021 Randall Family Big Idea Competition, held by the University of Pittsburgh every year.

Pralent, Carnegie Mellon University (undergraduate)

Now more than ever, finding efficient and accessible ways to build online communities is essential for connecting to others. That’s why Samarth Gowda cofounded Pralent. Rather than spread community resources across multiple platforms like Slack for messaging or Eventbrite for events, Gowda explained that Pralent acts as a one-stop shop, allowing for management of membership, events, competitions, programming and more, all while giving member data and insights back to organizers. Gowda shared that the company already has several customers, including CMU, which will use Pralent to host the 2022 McGinnis Venture Competition.

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Flurry, Carnegie Mellon University (undergraduate)

A combination of software and hardware, Flurry collects data from a device users attach to cars in order to assess hazardous road conditions like potholes or black ice, and warn other drivers. Founder Miguel Brandao said that in collecting this data from car sensors, an app would be able to automatically share that information with all cars in its network, as well as with transportation and road management groups. Similar to the way Waze updates users on traffic conditions, Flurry would update them on road safety during hazardous weather at all times of the year.

HealthENose, University of Pittsburgh (graduate)

With a breath-based point of care medical device, HealthENose founder Brian Day said that his company could eliminate the need for CT scans in lung cancer screening. By using computational analysis and sensors to analyze biomarkers in breath, HealthENose would offer a low-cost and efficient alternative to CT scans for clinical use in lung disease diagnostics, Day said.

I-SPI, University of Pittsburgh (graduate)

I-SPI is an assistive teaching tool for camera-based surgeries, allowing residents in training to improve their anatomy identification skills and surgical efficiency in real-time. Meant as an enhancement to current training methods, I-SPI uses software in conjunction with camera footage to give residents a way to label areas they should or should not cut during surgery, founder Lauren Grice said in the pitch. Use of the tool would increase surgical training efficiency as well as improve patient safety, Grice added.

CompassionateSynergy, Carnegie Mellon University (graduate)

The greeting cards of the future are here with CompassionateSynergy, which founder Maxine Attobrah said uses augmented reality to make cards more interactive and personal. She added that CompassionateSynergy greeting cards would be available to users with her company’s app or Snapchat (which she mentioned working with) on their phones. With this tech innovation in an industry dominated by paper products, Attobrah said she hopes to make the greeting card industry fun and exciting again.

Winners

  • Best Undergraduate: Re-Solution, University of Pittsburgh. The company specializes in developing contact lens cases that clean lenses for users according to recommended protocols.
  • Best Graduate: I-SPI, University of Pittsburgh
  • Best in Show: HealthENose, University of Pittsburgh
  • Honorable Mention: Allegro, University of Pittsburgh

Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments. -30-
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