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October 02, 2018 | Tom Ballard

EasyWhip representing UTK at “SEC Student Pitch Competition” next week

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Lia Winter has joined forces with another University of Tennessee (UT), Knoxville student to be the institution’s representatives in next week’s “SEC Student Pitch Competition” in College Station, TX.

This is the third time out of the last four years that the Southeastern Conference schools have held the event. This year, it is being hosted by Texas A&M’s McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship on October 8.

“I’ll be pitching EasyWhip,” Winter told us during  “Startup Week Knoxville.” Her idea won the “Fall 2017 Vol Court Speaker Series and Pitch Competition” and later secured $12,500 in “Boyd Venture Challenge.” She subsequently shared with us the impact that UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) has made on her entrepreneurial efforts in this article.

Winter is a graduate student pursuing an MBA and a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering who has developed a modification to the current whip stitching needle that is used during orthopedic reconstruction procedures, like ACL surgery. EasyWhip’s inherent value is that it has dual cost savings for providers as well as patients. The product reduces the time that the graft preparation process takes and improves consistency which decreases the incidence of technical errors and improves patient outcomes.

A recent addition to the EasyWhip team is Ryan Cunningham, another student entrepreneur who launched a start-up named Campus Car LLC. It is a ridesharing service targeting customers in the Old City, downtown Knoxville, UT campus, and Fort Sanders area.

His marketing expertise complements Winter’s technical background.

Previous UT participants in the SEC competition were Jake Rheude and his GuruSkins that placed third in 2015 and Baker Donahue and his In With The Old start-up in 2017.

For Winter, the concept for EasyWhip is motivated by personal experiences. She was a high school athlete who tore her hamstring. Later, her mother had to have ACL surgery, so she’s seen the challenges that orthopedic patients face up close and personal.

Lynn Youngs, ACEI Executive Director, cited the progress and recognition Winter has made as reasons that her start-up was selected to represent UT in the competition.

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