Upright is a budding Mississippi-based company that wants to manufacture 3D-printed prosthetics, which would dramatically reduce costs for those who need them.
A business pitch by Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science students Nicholas Djedjos, Aadhav Senthil and Lucas Yu won the three students $3,000 on Tuesday night in a business plan competition. They earned the highest marks among four groups of upper class MSMS students in the Shark Tank-style competition, after months of developing a hypothetical business idea.
Upright offered a product aimed at low-to-middle income people in need of prosthetics, with a particular focus on veterans whose care comes from veterans’ hospitals. The functionality of the 3D printed prosthesis can vary depending on what is needed, and it can range from low to high functionality.
Upright’s lightweight, inexpensive material would allow a full prosthetic leg to cost around $4,000, far less than the $70,000 they said it typically costs to manufacture out of state. Often funding is an issue and amputees don’t get the best option available because it’s too expensive, they said.
“At Upright Prosthetics, we are introducing 3D printed prostheses, which significantly reduce the manufacturing and material costs of traditional prostheses,” Djedjos said. “We’re going to be local — reaching out to the 35+ clinics across Mississippi to make sure we have the biggest impact possible. We are going to have a website with rural and global capabilities. people who do not have access to prosthetic clinics can order prosthetics from the comfort of their own home. Most importantly, we are the premier manufacturer of 3D printed prostheses in Mississippi.
Another proposed company named Electrastep, has floated an idea that would allow people to recharge their batteries while doing their workout. Everett Miller, Dylan Griffith, Chingun Tsogt-Erdene and Elena Eaton won $1,500 for their idea for a kinetic energy-powered battery in shoes. As long as the shoe wearer’s feet are moving, whether walking, running or jumping, the battery is charging for that person’s cell phone.
The battery is located in the lip of the shoe and although it is not waterproof, it is water resistant. Electrastep would partner with shoemakers like Adidas and Nike to help deliver this new technology in popular shoe designs and reach its target demographic of active men and women.
“We don’t have a specific industry due to the complexity of the product, but our direct competitor is portable chargers. In this market, there are 12 billion dollars. That’s a lot of money,” Miller said during his speech. “This year during exploitation, we hope to target a $4 million share of that $12 billion. Electric discs are placed in the bottom of the shoe that generate electricity with every step you take. The electricity is then transferred to a battery inside the shoe which has an easily accessible charge for your phone.
The MSMS Business Plan Competition began five years ago thanks to social studies teacher Kayla Hester. The competition challenges juniors and seniors to create a viable business plan with a product and eventually present the plan to a panel of judges.
“When I was hired, one of the hopes with my position was, among other things, to start an entrepreneurship program. Part of that involves teaching entrepreneurship in the economics courses we already offer, but the other part we’re looking at would be this annual competition,” Hester said. “The second year I was here we started working on it and now we are in the fifth year. Some students have taken my economics course, but others have not. It’s open to anyone who wants to participate, but it’s easier if they’ve taken my course because we go through this process of creating a business plan.
In October, the students began brainstorming potential product ideas for a business model together. At the start of this semester, juniors and seniors met with mentors from local businesses and the Mississippi State University Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach.
Last week, four finalist groups finalized their presentations and worked hard on any questions that might arise during their presentations to a panel of four judges, all of whom are entrepreneurs themselves.
The other finalists were Amanda Zhou, Kevin Liu, Raeed Kabir and Sam Sun with a subscription 3D printing service called 3DHub; and Lasajes, comprised of Sephora Poteau, CJ Jordan, and Nathan George, which focused on helping teachers plan lessons.
“I think it’s a good example of our students’ innovation and creativity. I think this contest is nice because it can kind of exemplify that creativity and show that they, like many of the bands that have been talked about, can give back to Mississippi,” Hester said. “I think a lot of students have that sort of thing on their minds; they want to find ways to give back and improve the state. So that’s a big part of their focus on those plans, and a lot of them, I imagine, will one day go on to build real startups that will have a big impact.
The prize money was donated by attorney Jeff Turnage and his wife, Anne. Jeff Turnage said he was more than happy to contribute not only to the youngest and brightest minds in Mississippi, but those of the country as well.
“You have a reputation for excellence across the country, and you should be congratulated for that. What makes me proud to be here is the gift that Dr. Hester gave us again when she asked me to come and recognize the fantastic potential that each of the children, young adults and especially the competitors in final of this contest,” he said. noted. “It’s very clear to me that you young ladies and gentlemen will be able to get started in college and hopefully have your parents living in your basement one day rather than the other way around.”