Expanding Frontiers’ Entrepreneur in Residence Apprenticeship (EIRA) Program graduates dominate the Rafael Munguia Business Plan Pitch Competition which was hosted by the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
The competition includes a business plan submission and 10-minute pitch presentation followed by questions from judges. According to UTRGV, presentations are judged on “the business plan, the poise and professionalism of the presenters, and the viability of the venture”.
The top team in the student category of the competition is made up of UTRGV Engineering students William Brown and Lee Martinez. Brown presented Embedded on behalf of the team on Thursday. Embedded placed 1st in its category for the Rafael Munguia Business Plan Competition and received a $5,000 prize. The startup is working on RFID embedded fabrics to help monitor patients and nursing home residents without wires or bulky sensors. The NASA technology the startup is based on was chosen by the team during last year’s Technology Hack-a-thon, one of the events in the Entrepreneur in Residence Apprenticeship (EIRA) Program.
The 2nd place winner in the competition’s community submission category, Aetherworks, was founded by Brandan Neece and Hector Valdez. Aetherworks is using NASA-vetted technology to develop an efficient carbon recapture system. The Aetherworks team also developed its business from the same portfolio of technologies available to EIRA participants through its technology hackathon.
Past NASA Technology Strategist and Venture Partner at Seldor Capital, Steven Gonzalez says the wins of the two startups is “fantastic news and a testament to the great program provided by Expanding Frontiers”. Mr. Gonzalez serves as one of the EIRA Program’s mentors and has seen the two startups since their inception in the EIRA Program’s 2021 cohort. Founder and Executive Director of Expanding Frontiers, Fredrick Jenet, shares in the celebration and says “We are so proud of ExF’s entrepreneurs and the entire ExF eco-system of mentors and advisors that contributed to their success.”
The EIRA program is currently accepting applications for its 2022 EIRA Program Cohort. Space enthusiasts and aspiring entrepreneurs are invited to apply through May 16, 2022 on Expanding Frontiers’ website. The 16-week program develops startup teams and technologies for participation in the Expanding Frontiers Space Tech Pitch Competition. Teams then move onto the Acceleration Program where they further develop their business plans and technologies and teams.