By: Lexie Newhouse
It was game day for eight high school and seven college teams this past Saturday, April 21, for TiE Atlanta’s TYE-U Entrepreneurship Competition Finals! The competition was hosted at The Farm, a startup accelerator located in The Battery at SunTrust Park.
After a productive morning packed with breakfast and networking, TiE Atlanta President, Dr. Paul Lopez, introduced Partha Unnava, founder of Better Walk Health, for the opening keynote address.
Unnava attended Georgia Tech, where he was active in sports like basketball and ultimate frisbee. After breaking his foot, he discovered an unfilled void within the injury protection industry, saying that, “If it’s not cancer, people really don’t focus on it in the healthcare field.”
Fighting his family’s idea of that “predestined future,” he designed his own path with Better Walk Health, a startup devoted to developing better injury prevention and aid solutions like crutches and socks. He explained that “It wasn’t about making revenue, but how many people’s lives can I make better.”
Unnava stressed that one of the most important skills to hone as a business owner is the ability to say to yourself “I don’t know what I’m doing” and to be able to accept that uncertainty. In closing, he left the audience with “Don’t be an entrepreneur, be a changemaker.”
His inspiring words carried the competition into the pitch portion of the day. Here the high school teams and the college teams divided into their respective spaces to begin pitching.
First to pitch among the college teams was Atramento, a team from Georgia Tech committed to creating new tattoo solutions that are more precise and less painful with the use of microneedles. Followed that was PuppyFax of the University of Georgia, a platform that matches prospective puppy owners with responsible dog breeders. Lunula Health of Georgia Tech and Emory was third to pitch with their anemia diagnostic and monitoring services.
After a brief intermission, the pitches resumed with the first team from Georgia State. Jennifer Preyss (B.A. ’06, M.I.B. ‘18), Jessica Fort (M.I.B. ‘17), and Arthur Kiboit (B.B.A. ’08, M.I.B. ‘17) pitched BluMourn, a startup simplifying the funeral reservation process online. Nathan Foster of Enrich (B.B.A. ‘18), another Georgia State student, pitched the world’s smallest and smartest garden. The final Georgia State team was Soundcollide, where Robert Hatcher (B.S. ’17 and M.B.A. ‘19) shared how his startup is changing the way the world creates music. To close, Oculus Prime of Georgia Tech pitched their solution to change the glaucoma treatment paradigm.
As the judges were determining the competition winners, cofounders Alex Smereczniak and Dan Daquisto, co-founders, of 2U Laundry spoke for the closing keynote. Being the “Uber of laundry service,” they shared their journey of bootstrapping to support the business, where after taking out loans they raised 20 million in capital for their laundry delivery business. At the time, their main competitor flopped, allowing them to control the market.
When scaling, they stressed the importance of maintaining quality. Currently, Smereczniak and Daquisto is looking to expand into “second tier” markets like Dallas and Houston. As Smereczniak shared, “Continue to believe if your ideas – It will pay off.”
Congratulations to Soundcollide and Lunula Health for tying for third place, Oculus Prime for placing second, and Atramento for wining first. Stay tuned for future collaborations with the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute and TiE Atlanta!