by Jasmyne Moody
Four students from the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Institute placed in the top five at the Atlanta Startup Battle. Participants included Ahmed Reshit, Luis Ferrer-Labarca, Sara Yeh and Alex Blanco-Pence. The team hatched the idea of uPet, a pet rental service aimed at encouraging people to adopt, not shop. The idea is that when customers rent a pet, they will be much more likely to adopt after renting.
“Our goal is to encourage the adoption of rescued animals generating additional income for shelters and rescues as well as giving people a chance to try out a new pet,” Reshit, the team leader, says.
After meeting at Georgia State University, the students became familiar with each other’s skill sets. “Luis and I were involved in co-founding PantherHackers, currently the largest technology-oriented student organization at Georgia State,” Reshit says.
The competition called on entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas for a chance to win $100,000 in funding for their business.
Other startup ideas that placed in the top five include Diascan, which leverages machine learning on medical imaging, giving radiologists results more quickly than biopsies; Kyasis, which uses deep learning and AI to maximize user engagement on social media; and Patientory, a Facebook of sorts for healthcare.
Musheer Ahmed snagged first place for Fraudscope, which aims to reduce billing claims fraud in healthcare. Fraud costs the nation $272 billion annually, and 95 percent of it is missed.
Ferrer-Labarca, Yeh and Reshit met Blanco-Pence in Entrepreneurial Thinking for Startups (ENI 301), a course taught by Dr. Isabelle Monlouis. The students credit Monlouis with mentoring and pushing them all the way.
“Dr. Monlouis has been absolutely incredible. She has been very encouraging of all her students to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. She has been a mentor to us through the entire journey,” Reshit says.
The uPet founders are not discouraged by not winning first place. “We will continue working hard on developing our minimal viable product,” Reshit says. “Our plans are to slowly test our application through continuous research and customer feedback and make necessary adjustments to best suit it for our market.”
For placing in the top 10, the team will receive free access to Tech Square Labs, a space for mentorship, business incubation, and research through trial and error.