When you’re out on the town, or making the holiday rounds, or even going to a boozy business dinner, who can you rely on to get you home in one piece? Your similarly inebriated companions? You, with your impaired judgment?
If technology entrepreneurs Bob Lansdorp, Daniel Imberman, Netz Arroyo and Evan Strenk — the big winners of the 2015 UC Santa Barbara Technology Management Program’s New Venture Competition (NVC) — have their way, that entire hazy decision-making process would be a thing of the past. Thanks to Milo, a discreet wearable sensor that monitors your blood alcohol level through your sweat and sends out notifications based on its readings, you would know just how hard the alcohol is hitting you. But, perhaps more importantly, so would your non-drunk pre-designated driver friends who can swoop in before the night takes a wrong turn.
The idea was such a hit with the judges at the NVC finals that the group took home not just the $10,000 Grand Prize, but also the $7,500 First Place prize in the Tech-Driven category and the $2,500 People’s Choice award.
The competition was fierce for the rest in cash prizes handed out at the event. ChemoGuard Diagnostics, a screening test that may help doctors tailor chemotherapy to individual patients, took home the $5,000 Elings Prize and tied with augmented visualization technology creators Caugnate for the $2,500 second prize in the Tech-Driven category. The $7,500 First Place prize in the Market Pull category — which recognizes existing customer needs — went to INSiiGHT, eye-tracking technology that could assist web developers optimize websites and drive traffic. Meanwhile, Slightly Nutty, an organic, pre-consumer waste-fed cricket protein source aimed at producing high-quality sustainable protein powder, tied with Sesamo, an app that puts hotel keycard technology on the smartphone, for the $2,500 Market Pull Second Prize.
The six teams that won the finals came from an original pool of about 20 teams that entered out the eight-month TMP tech entrepreneurship program and competition. Already in its 16th year, TMP’s New Venture Competition has turned out some of the best and brightest in tech-based businesses in the region by providing essential mentoring and opportunities to develop both the technology and the entrepreneurship skills necessary to be competitive in today’s economy.