Two Trinity University student entrepreneur teams won the finalist round of the Louis H. Stumberg Venture Competition Tuesday evening.
Personal finance app ReCap and shoulder physical therapy device company Range Rehab both came in first place. Each team won a $25,000 grand prize in equity-free funding. Skelton, a company offering a wearable metronome and tuner, came in the runner-up position and also won the audience favorite, winning $5,000.
Range Rehab’s physical therapy device for shoulder injury rehab can be used without a physician’s supervision. Seniors Neha Kapur, AJ Bishop, Marriana Sayen ’25, and U.S. Army vet and inventor Abraham Valdez comprise the founding team.
Personal finance app ReCap is an idea Trinity University sophomores Joey Hersh, Max Hightower, Alex Garcia, Ashwin Ramesh, and John Hawes had to promote better spending habits and help people save money.
Created by juniors Lucas Riley, Paul Kim, Alfonso Kamel, and Gabriel Ogden, Skelton Musical is a wearable metronome wristband for musicians to use alone or when practicing in groups.
The three remaining finalist teams have wide-ranging businesses.
- FARO provides a project-based curriculum on global topics at the elementary school level and is led by Shelby Atherton, class of 2023 (‘23), Rachel Poovathoor ’22, and Maria Zaharatos ’22.
- Pacific Debate Institute, founded by Nelson Rose ’25, aims to transform middle and high school-aged students’ debate experience through camp sessions, coaching programs, and a subscription to a searchable database of debate evidence.
- Sophomores Ellie Curran and Clara Smartt, and Matvei Popov launched Wherezy, a customizable, location-tracking bracelet for children to wear.
The Stumberg New Venture Competition is named after the late San Antonio businessman and civic leader Louis H. Stumberg, a member of Trinity’s board of trustees for many years. Stumberg was a well-known entrepreneur in San Antonio who founded Patio Foods and its line of Tex-Mex frozen dinners in the 1940s at the end of the Great Depression in the U.S.
Since its launch in 2016, this two-part university-wide competition has encouraged Trinity student entrepreneur teams to compete for equity-free funding for their startups. In the spring, a panel of judges typically chooses five to six teams out of 10 to move onto the second and final round each fall.
Each of the finalist teams receives $5,000 in seed funding, a spot in Trinity’s summer accelerator, summer housing on campus, mentorship, a credit hour, a year’s membership in the Geekdom startup co-working community, participation in Geekdom’s incubator program, and $5,000 credit for Amazon Web Services cloud computing.
The winner of the 2021 venture competition was Microlev for its advanced technology that will aid scientists engaged in aerosol research. Josefina Hajek-Herrera and Bene Snyder are working with Trinity chemistry professor Ryan Davis on their optical equipment company that provides more accurate, innovative aerosol research instruments for scientists to isolate single droplets when analyzing assays and sensors.
Over the past 10 years, Trinity’s entrepreneurship program (which includes the Stumberg Venture Competition) has been responsible for the launch of 69 student-led companies. The Stumberg Competition has helped those numbers considerably.
“Trinity has invested $407,000 in student startups over the last eight years,” said Luis Martinez, Trinity’s Center for Science and Innovation director. “These investments in 42 teams of student-launched companies over the past eight years have impacted the lives of 92 students. Like past Stumberg winners QuickSip Coffee, PatchRx, and HydroTek, these companies have raised an additional $7.5 million in external funding.”
Read: Smart Water-Bottle Lid Company HydroTek Wins Stumberg Competition $25,000 Prize at Trinity University.
“When you look at the total external funding raised by all startups coming out of Trinity’s Entrepreneurship program over the past decade, we can account for over $19 million in venture funding raised,” Martinez said. “That’s an impressive number coming from our 69 student-founded companies.”
Martinez also announced that Trinity is launching an early-stage investment fund to focus on early-stage startups. The fund will be used for startups beyond Trinity’s entrepreneurship program and rely upon deal flow partnerships with Alamo Angels, Geekdom, and Capital Factory.
“We plan on modeling our new program on other successful collegiate venture competitions, such as the Baylor New Venture Competition and Rice Business Plan Competition,” Martinez said.
Two teams won the 2022 Trinity University Stumberg Competition. From the left top row: Judges Chris Claiborne, Debi Pfitzenmaier, Ashley Hixon, Gisela Girard, and Crystal Darby. Bottom row from left: Recap’s Alex Garcia, Max Hightower, Ashwin Ramesh, Joey Hersh, Trinity President Dr. Vanessa Beasley, and Range Rehab’s Abraham Valdez, AJ BIshop, Marriana Sayen, Neha Kapur, and Andrew Koob. Photo courtesy Trinity University.