The 34th annual Knapp Venture Competition rewarded medical device startup Spinal Singularity with first prize of $15,000 for its product Connected Catheter. The teamwork of Derek Herrera (EMBA ’15), Zach McKinney (Ph.D., biomedical engineering ’15), Beth Johnson (EMBA ’15) and Chandrashekar Hariharan (EMBA ’15) paid off as they accepted the prize from Bud and Betsy Knapp, who endowed the competition in 1996 to secure it as an Anderson tradition.
The HR platform Rankmi was the runner-up and also took the People’s Choice Award (a $2,000 prize), while online capital markets platform FundOpp and “jewelry experience company” For Luxe and Love tied for third place. Swift Analytics, which provides a smartwatch-based mobile platform to monitor Parkinson’s disease patients’ symptoms, won fourth place.
The Knapps were joined by fellow judges Leo Petrossian (’14), co-founder and CEO of Neural Analytics; mobile technology entrepreneur Austin Murray; Wilton Risenhoover of the UCLA VC Fund and entrepreneur-in-residence at Idealab; and Anil Tammineedi (’08), an investor at Angeleno Group.
Professor Al Osborne, senior associate dean and founder and faculty director of the Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, launched the competition and introduced emcee Sanjay Nambiar (’04), an award-winning author and founder of Tengo Communications and Umiya Publishing. Nambiar kept the energy high with anecdotes (he told his daughter he was off to emcee the Knapp Competition and she asked, “If someone wakes up, do they lose?”) and competition history and trivia. He pointed out that in 1983 when the original business plan competition was established many of the competitors weren’t born yet, and that by the time it was formally endowed they were just little kids.
When Price Center Director Elaine Hagan (’91) was thanking sponsors, faculty, staff and, especially, the families of the teams competing, she joked, “We know it’s not easy loving an entrepreneur.” Clearly, the competitors all grew up to be enterprising adults, with the tenacity and creativity to launch businesses against competitive markets. What’s not to love?
Complete Team Information:
FIRST PLACE, $15,000: Spinal Singularity
TEAM: Derek Herrera (EMBA ’15); Zach McKinney (Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering ’15); Beth Johnson (EMBA ’15); Chandrashekar Hariharan (EMBA ’15)
We design connected medical devices to improve the quality of life for people dealing with spinal cord injury and disease (SCI/D). Spinal Singularity leverages unique combinations of existing technologies to create an exponential impact on the lives of the people we serve.
SECOND PLACE, $7,000: Rankmi
TEAM: Enrique Besa (’16); Roberto Moldes (’16); Olivia Valdés
Rankmi is a Web-based app that allows companies to assess, analyze and develop their employees’ skills, performance and engagement. We want to transform HR by bringing talent management practices to the cloud, in an affordable and accessible solution to companies of all sizes in the Latin American market.
THIRD PLACE, $3,000 (tie): For Luxe and Love
TEAM: Adriana Delor (’15); Ankin Laysha (’16); Rachael Byers
A jewelry experience company with minimum commitment and maximum customization. For Luxe and Love allows women access to a temporary ownership of high-quality jewelry basics, and the option to customize upon purchase, in the underserved $400-2,000 retail price jewelry subscription/rental market.
THIRD PLACE, $3,000 (tie): FundOpp Capital Inc.
TEAM: Fark Tari (’15); Ilya Tokhner; Ross Reagen
FundOpp is an online investment platform for vetted, alternative investment. It connects accredited investors with previously inaccessible asset classes. The company’s beachhead market will be in commercial real estate.
FOURTH PLACE, $2,000: Swift Analytics
TEAM: Margaret Wei (MD/MBA ’16); Ronald Tong (’16); Matthew Inouye (’16); Rustann Solomero (’16); Brian Ouyang (’16); Bianca Gonzalez (Ph.D., neuroscience ’15)
Swift Analytics is a smartwatch mobile application for monitoring Parkinson’s Disease symptoms and tracking medication compliance. The application will allow physicians to better target interventions while decreasing Parkinson’s disease related costs.