By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Lia Winter is going to be earning some frequent traveler miles over the first two weekends in March. One will probably be by car, but the other will definitely be in the air.
The Founder of Winter Innovations and inventor of the EasyWhipTM device to be used for orthopedic reconstruction procedures like ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) surgery has been selected to compete in two prestigious collegiate pitch competitions. The first is the annual “Brown-Forman Cardinal Challenge” hosted March 1 and 2 by the University of Louisville. The second is the “Stu Clark Investment Competition” March 8 and 9 at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
We’ve spotlighted Winter and her entrepreneurial journey in several teknovation.biz articles, the most recent here. The soft-spoken native of Pennsylvania has been methodically pursuing her start-up while also working to complete dual graduate degrees, one an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering and the other a Masters in Business Administration.
She has also competed in several pitch events like the annual one for start-ups from Southeastern Conference member schools, attended a variety of educational workshops for entrepreneurs, and actively engaged with a number of mentors and advisors.
“Winter Innovations, LLC has come a long way since we last spoke,” Winter told us. “We were fortunate to win $5,000 in seed funding from the Fall 2018 ‘Boyd Venture Challenge.’ We have used that money to hire a mechanical engineering group to help us optimize the design of EasyWhipTM and produce needles that we can take to surgeons for testing.”
She says the next step is to make any necessary changes to the needle before freezing the design and moving forward with production as well as testing for regulatory submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“We took the feedback that we received from the ‘Boyd Venture Challenge’ judges last semester, and we’ve been working closely with Anderson Center (for Entrepreneurship and Innovation) mentors to refine our business plan and pitch,” Winter added. The revised plan was submitted to both universities.
“We were ecstatic when we found out that we were invited to compete in both,” she said. There are 12 teams for the “Cardinal Challenge” and 16 teams for “Stu Clark Investment Competition.”
“These competitions are great exposure for the company, and they give us the chance to get valuable feedback from new judges outside of our home university,” Winter believes, adding, “And, of course, we hope to bring home some prize money to put toward our upcoming production milestones.”
There’s serious money involved in both competitions. In the case of the “Brown-Forman Cardinal Challenge,” about $100,000 will be awarded. First place in the contest in Canada is $20,000, with second place garnering $10,000 and lesser, four-figure amounts for third, fourth and fifth place. Both competitions involve two rounds of pitches on the respective Saturday.