The Ralph S. O'Connor Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fund will finance five student startups during 2018. The entrepreneurship scheme was started within the well-known Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures funding ecosystem. About thirty-one students sent applications to the program – twelve were chosen as finalists. The number was further winnowed down to the final five.
About the fund
The fund was started by Ralph O'Connor, alumni of John Hopkins, and Becky, his wife. The fund program offers each cohort member a grant of $5,000. Recipients also have the opportunity to earn an extra $5,000 if they can reach a few predetermined milestones.
The team members that constituted the final startups gathered during the last week of November to enjoy a welcome dinner. They also went through an orientation phase at the North Baltimore-located FastForward R. House.
Darius Graham, the director of JHTV's student ventures, expressing his excitement said that he believes that the selected five represents a wide swathe of interesting ideas. This spans from starting an affordable and accessible pediatric hearing device for screening to engineering a new device which blends capabilities of the laser cutter and the 3D printer. The first idea would cater to the needs of citizens of developing countries. The sponsors will assist these teams to build upon the already existing ideas. It is hoped that these ideas will be transformed into commercially successful ventures.
The steward of O'Connor Fund is FastForward U. The latter offers a bouquet of mentorship, services, and programming opportunities to assist them with developing future solutions today. The cohort list for 2018 includes Weed Social Inc, Treyetech, VersaMaker, OtoGlobal Health, and Atana. Weed Social wants to create a social network that's decentralized for optimizing the experience offered by e-Commerce solutions. Treyetech is a B2B venture which facilitates the transplant of corneas with a new work-flow and device that leads to an improvement of the vision of patients.
VersaMaker is a maker device having modular tool heads permitting users to vary functionality from the 3D printing to CNC routing and thence to laser engraving. Liquid printing is also possible. Best of all, this can be achieved through a single machine. Atana is a collaborative development and research model for industry leaders, patients, and researchers. It is based on blockchain technology.