Double majoring in BHP and biochemistry, Menta came to the 40 Acres with a passion for developing low-cost medical solutions.
“There’s a whole field of science called frugal science,” Menta said. “A lot of countries don’t have medical infrastructure, and some things that we take advantage of, that we won’t even bat an eye at — in other countries, people die because they don’t have them.”
During his transition from high school to college, Menta formed the idea of creating a mobile vaccine carrier that would allow physicians to bring preserved vaccines to developing nations that lack such medical resources. His involvement with this global issue stems from his observation of the inadequacy of medical infrastructure in his home country of India.
“I was very interested in doing this because in my home country, India, there are actually a lot of people who don’t have access to vaccines,” Menta said. “I saw this issue throughout the world, especially in developing nations, which are Africa, Brazil and other areas. I thought coming up with some type of solution to help those people would be something pretty cool to try to accomplish.”
Menta knew his idea could potentially save many lives and was determined to bring it to fruition. He became involved with the startup community at UT-Austin and joined Freshman Founders Launchpad, a platform that provided him with the resources to further establish his vaccine carrier idea.
However, Menta realized he would need a source of funding in order to fully bring his design to life. And that’s when he discovered Chasing Genius, a competition created by National Geographic that challenges participants to offer solutions to global health issues in exchange for a $25,000 reward that would fund the production of winning projects.
The sophomore placed as a finalist in the competition, earning nearly 500 votes on his vaccine carrier concept called VaxCube. Throughout the campaign, Menta garnered support for his design by highlighting the aspects that made it stand out from other vaccine carrier ideas.
“VaxCube is one of the first medical vaccine carriers that is designed to utilize an integrated Peltier device and solar panel in one combined system,” Menta said. “My design incorporates this system in an affordable manner to allow for longer-lasting blood or vaccine cooling than other medical coolers.”
In addition to having a unique design, Menta attributes his success to his application of business skills throughout the competition, which allowed him to elevate the effectiveness of his presentation.
“Being able to present and speak clearly — those are all things that no matter which career field you choose, it’s a very unique skill that really puts you on the edge, especially in such a competitive workplace that there is today,” Menta said. “Creating a good way to advocate your idea — I think that’s around 50 percent of the entrepreneurship process … Having these basic skills helped me take my idea one step further and show exactly what I wanted to show, and I was very fortunate to be selected as a finalist because of that.”
After wrapping up the Chasing Genius competition, Menta has decided to continue developing his passion for solving global health issues. He is currently still pursuing the funding necessary to build a prototype of his VaxCube design. Additionally, he plans to attend medical school after graduation and strongly believes BHP will help him reach this goal as a result of the diverse skillset he is currently cultivating in the program.
“I definitely think you should take advantage of the BHP resources,” Menta said. “Business is a language, and I think learning that is a very viable skill.”
Throughout his journey on 40 Acres so far, Menta has realized that exploring a wide range of opportunities has been his primarily takeaway for success.
“Definitely explore opportunities,” Menta said. “I encourage people to put themselves in uncomfortable situations and try things they wouldn’t have expected. Maybe there’s something you like that you won’t know until you try it.”