The Love’s Cup is a statewide business plan competition for college students that simulates the real-world process of researching a market, writing a business plan and making a presentation to potential investors. This year, an undergraduate team – Novel Neuro – and a graduate team – DevCycle – from The University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business took first and third place respectively in their divisions.
Novel Neuro was led by Brittanie Whitney. Her teammates were Faith Nichols, Lena Schmenn and Sophia Zehentner. Professor Chris Wright served as their adviser.
“The Love’s Cup was a great introduction to the world of entrepreneurship,” said Whitney. “The competition and Professor Cornell’s course cover every aspect of start-up ventures, from initial market definition all the way to the exit strategy. With a technical product, we were grateful to have the support of a few Tulsa entrepreneurs and TU community members on our advisory board. My teammates and I had a neuroscience 101 crash-course at our first meeting and haven’t stop learning since! As the team leader, I gained experience in project management and I am now better equipped for my career!”
Novel Neuro is a patent-pending cognitive assessment platform that enhances the confidence of providers in the medical, personal injury and insurance industries by accurately identifying falsified (malingering) claims of brain injury. The technology was developed by TU’s Neuropsychology Laboratory with the assistance of Jordan Hoffmeister, a doctoral candidate in psychology. Through their research, the team discovered that 39% of this kind of injury claims are fake or exaggerated. Neuropsychologists need to be able to detect these false claims, especially in light of the fact that related insurance claims average $100,000 each.
At the Love’s Cup competition, the team sought $1.4 million to build the software’s platform, accelerate brand relationships and continue further research and development. In return, the team offered investors a 30% stake in the company while projecting an 11.32x return on investment in three years.
DevCycle comprised Israyil Alakbarov (team leader) and Jamala Talibova. Their faculty adviser was Professor Claire Cornell.
The focus of this team’s work was innovation within the $14 billion embedded software market. Embedded software is used to control machine interface and is built into a diverse array of products, including mobile phones, robotics, electric cars and medical devices. The market is growing by 10% each year.
The traditional embedded software development process consists of hardware design and software design. The DevCycle technology was developed by TU alumnus Jonathan Torkelson (BEE ’03, MEE ’04). It has improved the embedded software development process by enabling users to develop software, visualize the hardware, test and debug concurrently. This leads to a 50% decrease in development costs and a 40% drop in hardware development time.
“This was a great experience because we were working with a real project, learned a lot from our mentors and improved our business understanding,” said Alakbarov, a business analytics student. “Even though my background is all about business/economics/marketing, it was still very challenging and informative.”
Similar to Novel Neuro, the DevCycle team sought $1.4 million to start building their brand recognition and to continue research and development as they expand into new markets. For a 30% stake in the firm, they projected a 16x return on investment in three years.
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