A time-saving surgical tool created by UT graduate student Lia Winter took home the top prize at this semester’s Vol Court Pitch Competition. Winter pitched the device, EasyWhip, to beat a record 23 competitors.
Vol Court is hosted twice a year by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s Haslam College of Business.
EasyWhip is designed to help improve the speed and consistency of certain orthopedic surgical procedures.
“An individual orthopedic surgery can cost more than $50,000,” said Winter. “Costs associated with orthopedic surgical procedures can be reduced by decreasing the time that each surgery takes or by reducing the surgery revision rate.”
Winter, from Pittsburgh, Penn., is both an MBA candidate in the Haslam College of Business and a master’s candidate in the UT Institute for Biomedical Engineering. She won $1,500 along with a sponsored prize package, which included free office space in the UT Research Foundation Business Incubator, consulting services courtesy of PYA, legal advice from Morehous Legal Group, and design services from Innovative Design Inc.
Second-place winner Matthew Young pitched his technology-enabled mirror business, Smart Mirrors. Originally built as a gift for his father, Young’s product delivers information to users directly on the mirror’s surface.
“I’ve been showing people the finished product, and it surprised me how many people gave the advice to make more and start selling them,” said Young. “I'm going to make the mirror the best it can be, using touch screen and voice command technology.”
Young, a senior in finance from Chester Springs, Penn., won $1,000 and the sponsored prize package.
Third place and $500 went to Quantum Lock, a technology that enhances the security of smart lock technology in private homes. Erica Grant of Richmond, Virginia, a Ph.D. candidate in the UT–Oak Ridge National Laboratory Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education, founded the company.
“Quantum Lock leapfrogs the current smart lock generation by using a property of quantum physics to block out any hacking and provide maximum protection to a home without sacrificing any of the convenience,” said Grant.
“Vol Court has become one of the fastest-growing pitch competitions in the area,” said Shawn Carson, Vol Court director. “As the number of participants increases, we continue to see great pitches from people who are passionate about growing their idea into a viable business.”
The Vol Court Pitch Competition was the final event of the fall 2017 Vol Court Speaker Series. Prior to the competition, participants attended five entrepreneurial lectures covering topics like customer discovery and legal structure for businesses.
Vol Court is a free event hosted by the Anderson Center each fall and spring semester. It is open to UT students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the local community. Sponsors for the fall competition included the UT Research Foundation, PYA, Morehous Legal Group, Three Roots Capital, Funding Sage and Innovative Design Inc.
Tyra Haag (865-974-5460, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Carrie McCamey (865-974-5189, email@example.com)
Vol Court Pitch Competition winners (from L to R): Matthew Young, Lia Winter and Erica Grant.