Sisu Global Health took home a giant check from Steve Case on Monday night.
The startup, which we profiled in April, makes a device to improve blood transfusions in the developing world. It won Monday’s pitch competition to close out the AOL cofounder’s stop in Baltimore. The visit to Charm City was the first day of Case’s latest Rise of the Rest bus tour to spotlight startup communities outside the Bay Area, New York and Boston.
Known as the Hemafuse, Sisu’s device is designed to provide blood for a patient suffering from internal bleeding. It’s hand-operated, allowing blood to be pumped into a blood bag so it can be reused. The crowd immediately took note of CEO Carolyn Yarina’s assertion that the device could save 11 million lives.
— VFA Baltimore (@VFABaltimore) September 28, 2015
Sisu’s three cofounders moved to Baltimore from Michigan earlier this year. During her pitch, Yarina said the company relocated to participate in the DreamIt Health Baltimore accelerator, but stayed for the connections they made within the city’s health and startup ecosystems. They plan to move into Impact Hub Baltimore in Station North’s Centre Theatre when it opens in December.
“This is a testament to why we moved our company to Baltimore,” Yarina said after the company was announced as the winner.
Following the pitch, Case noted that he recently traveled to Ghana, where he saw the need to tackle big problems with affordable, creative solutions. Sisu plans to distribute the surgical tool in Ghana next year.
Sisu was among the six startups in the pitch competition that were connected to health. The startups who pitched were selected from hundreds of entrants, according to Rise of the Rest organizers. Judges for the competition included former NAACP President Ben Jealous, OrderUp CEO Chris Jeffrey, the Commerce Department’s Julie Lenzer Kirk, Johns Hopkins senior entrepreneurship advisor Christy Wyskiel and Revolution Ventures partner Bobby Ocampo.
Here are the rest of the companies that pitched:
- Edessa — Startup that makes Easy Suds, a device that dispenses soap and water from a faucet together, guaranteeing that people don’t skip the soap when they wash their hands.
- Javazen — Makers of a line of blended brews that combine coffee, tea and superfood. They’ll be distributing in Target and Wegmans soon.
- Giftcard Rescue — This platform allows nonprofits to accept unused gift cards as (tax-deductible) donations, and turn them into cash.
- ShapeU — A startup of Johns Hopkins undergrads who are creating a platform to organize small group fitness classes.
- Proscia — JHU undergrads that are building a cloud-based platform to improve the field of pathology (analyzing cancer biopsies to make a diagnosis).
- Sonavex — A startup that makes imaging technology to detect clots that form after surgical procedures where arteries or veins are connected.
- Papgene — A spinout of Johns Hopkins research that uses cervical fluid from Pap tests to detect ovarian cancer.
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