Lauren Cornell, a Ph.D. candidate at the UT Austin College of Pharmacy, received first place in the 2017 Spring Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition (TVLIC) on May 5, 2017, for her company, NovoThelium.
NovoThelium has developed a technology that enables women to regenerate a nipple made from their own cells after a mastectomy. The technology preserves the unique native proteins and complex submicron level tissue architecture of the nipple. The technology can be applied to current or past nipple reconstructions.
“We are so excited for NovoThelium and their mission to improve the lives of millions of breast cancer survivors,” said Harlan Beverly, assistant director of Texas Venture Labs.
TVLIC is a bi-annual competition hosted by Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs (TVL) at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. The competition is open to all graduate students at UT Austin seeking funding for new business ventures. This spring’s TVLIC had 24 startup companies in attendance from various disciplines such as business, pharmacy, engineering and psychology.
The competition follows a shark-tank style format, where companies pitch their startups to a panel of experienced venture capital investors and entrepreneurs. Each team has 30 minutes to pitch to the judges. The winners of each semifinals division move on to compete in the finals to determine the Texas champion.
In addition to taking home first place, NovoThelium received a cash prize of $10,000 and an opportunity to join TVL in New York City to close the Nasdaq.
“My co-founder (Bianca Cerqueira) and I were honored to participate and receive such great support from the UT community,” said Cornell. “This challenge enabled us to meet potential investors and get professional insight on our business plan. It was a fantastic experience.”
The other four finalists include Wilder Systems in second place receiving $5,000, Ranch Hand in third place receiving $2,000, Smart Cred in fourth place receiving $1,000, and TiisMo in fifth place receiving $1,000. In addition to awarding the top five teams, TVLIC also awards teams for specialized honors such as the Wells Fargo Clean Technology Award, the James D. Pippin Veteran Award, and the E. Craig Nemec Elevator Challenge Award.
This year’s recipient of the Wells Fargo Clean Technology Award of $5,000 is Mesh. Mesh provides a new service to improve networking at live events. The Mesh Band is a low-cost wristband which can recognize a greeting gesture (like a handshake) to log a connection.
Health Hat received the James D. Pippin Veteran Award of $1,000 given to the most promising startup in TVLIC with one or more veteran co-founders.
The sixth annual E. Craig Nemec Elevator Challenge Award goes to three teams that competed in TVLIC and gave the best elevator pitch for their business in two minutes. This year’s winners include Jordy’s Plantain Chips, Mesh and Seat Potato. Each team will receive $1,000.
“Entrepreneurship isn’t just about having a good idea,” said Beverly. “The twenty-four teams that competed in the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition this year are building real startups with real missions and real passion. That’s what makes this the best competition in the nation.”
When evaluating student ventures, TVLIC judges acted as an investment group seeking the best business venture to fund, using the same process and asking the same questions they would any entrepreneur. The judges’ panel included Joi Chevalier, The Cook’s Nook; Morgan Flager, Silverton Partners; Aaron Perman, S3 Ventures; Scott Plantowsky, RSR Finance; Chris Shonk, ATX Seed Ventures; and Suneet Paul, investor.