MedTech Devices Sweep 2022 Fall Crossroads Pitch Competition: heARsight wins pre-seed, Wave Therapeutics wins seed competition
The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, today announced the winners of the Fall 2022 Crossroads Pitch Competition. South Bend company heARsight won the pre-seed competition for its augmented reality smart-glasses that provide real-time subtitles during in-person conversations. Nashville-based Wave Therapeutics won the seed competition for its therapeutic devices and software that prevent bendsores and blood clots for mobility impaired patients. HeARsight will receive a $10,000 investment from Flywheel Fund. Wave Therapeutics will receive a $20,000 investment.
“We’re proud to have been selected as the winners of the Crossroads pre-seed track, amongst an impressive and diverse group of startups,” said heARsight co-founder and CEO Riley Ellingsen. “The feedback we received from each round of the competition was invaluable, and the cash award gets us closer to our target for unlocking our next product development milestone. This recognition inspires confidence in our team that our recent efforts have demonstrated sufficient validation and traction to move forward with our pre-seed raise. We’re excited to be one step closer to creating a more accessible world for people who are hard of hearing and/or d/Deaf and incredibly grateful for Crossroads’ support of this mission.”
The pre-seed finals were judged by Geoff Zentz, Senior Director of Innovation at AgriNovus Indiana, and two past Crossroads winners, Jennie Moser, CEO of Stagetime, and Ellie Symes, CEO of The Bee Corp.
HeARsight’s glasses use an embedded microphone and speech-to-text and AR technology to create real-time subtitles. Danny Fritz and Ellingsen founded heARsight while students in Notre Dame’s Master of Science in Engineering, Science, & Technology Entrepreneurship Excellences program. Fritz saw his girlfriend struggling with speech comprehension—exacerbated by the prevalence of masks during the pandemic—and was inspired to explore how assistive tech could improve her quality of life. Globally, WHO reports that 430 million people have hearing difficulties, and as populations age and unsafe listening practices rise, that number is expected to grow to 2.5 billion by 2050. Earlier in 2022, heARsight was a semifinalist in the McCloskey New Venture Competition and won the third annual Recognition for Innovative Startup Excellence (RISE) Award.
Seed winner Wave Therapeutics, a Techstars Future of Longevity company, has also been on a winning streak this year. CEO Jessica Bussert won the Women’s Fast Pitch Finals and was selected as the judges’ and audience favorite pitch at the Revolutionize 2022 conference in Boston.
Wave’s product is the culmination of Bussert’s diverse background in programming, nursing, entrepreneurship, and business consulting. As a nurse, she saw the horrific wounds caused by bedsores firsthand. She then drew on her tech experience to design the first smart active cushioning product for wheelchairs to prevent pressure injuries and report data automatically to physicians. Wave has already secured one patent and a contracted research agreement with the VHA, which has 85,000 wheelchair-bound clients. At an affordable reimbursement price of $450, Wave’s initial serviceable obtainable market is over $38 million, and CEO Bussert has a plan to expand beyond that to a nearly $2.5 billion US market.
“The Crossroads competition brings in great companies from across the state, and I’m honored to be selected as the winner,” said Bussert. “We’re working on a life-saving technology to prevent bedsores, and it’s gratifying to know that the judges understand and support the work we’re doing. We’ve been a part of The Mill for several years, and we appreciate the support we get there and from the Indiana business community. Americans are 50% more likely to die of a bedsore than in an automobile accident, so the fact is we’re working on a product that impacts almost every family at some point in their lifetime.”
The seed finals were judged by Julie Heath, Vice President of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems at the IEDC; Jillian Ivers, Senior Manager of Global Research at Cook Medical; and John Wechsler, CEO of Spokenote.
“We were thrilled to so many great startups and such diverse founders from across Indiana,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming. “We fully expect to see great things from the winners and finalists, and from many semifinalists as well. It’s especially gratifying to see our two winners using technology to create innovative products that have not just outstanding market potential, but also profound impact on human lives.”
The two winning startups also receive priority to pitch at Elevate Ventures’ Nexus Regional Pitch Competition, where they could win an additional $20,000 or $80,000 investment.
Crossroads Pitch Competition, now in its sixth year, is open to any Indiana-based startup with less than $250,000 in annual recurring revenue. A panel of over 50 entrepreneurs, investors, and business experts selected four finalists for each of the two tracks. The other pre-seed finalists were BeautyAround (out of South Bend, pitched by Ange Agasaro and Teayanna Leytham); Dynamic House (Dyer, Eva Rivera); and Soloist (Bloomington, Parker Busick). The other seed finalists were Juke (South Bend, Griffin Eaton); and Plantennas (Chesterton, Alexandra Moran); and Quiptu (Bloomington, Joshua Roche).
Visit https://www.crossroadspitch.com/ to learn more about the competition or to download the Fall 2022 Crossroads Lookbook of all startup competitors.
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