A pair of Grove City College sophomores are finalists in a nationwide business pitch competition that could net them $50,000 in startup funding.
Ethan David ’24 and Luke Gilligan ’24 make up the only team consisting solely of undergraduates to make the cut in the Washington University of St. Louis’ Olin Business School BIG IdeaBounce contest, which tasked teams and individuals with developing and pitching a completely unique idea for a business.
Their proposal for Resense, a business that develops and delivers resources to aid people with dementia and memory loss and their caregivers, is one of 12 finalists in the contest – out of more than 160 entries. Their competition now consists of Ph.Ds., Ph.D. and MBA candidates, and graduate students from some of the nation’s top colleges and universities.
David, a double Entrepreneurship and Biblical and Religious Studies major from Mars, Pa., and Gilligan, an Entrepreneurship major from Fishers, Ind., came up with the idea in Lean Launchpad, a class taught by Entrepreneurship Professor Yvonne English ’97 that focuses on the lean startup method. English also serves as Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation (E+I) which strives to promote an entrepreneurial culture through experiential programming for students of all majors.
“We were tasked to create a team and explore a product idea from idea stage to physical prototype. Throughout that process, we realized the great need and opportunity that we had to help individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia,” Gilligan said. “Without Lean Launchpad, we would not even have come up with the idea.”
“Luke and Ethan made it to the final round of a competition that started with a large number of entries from competitors that included doctoral candidates, active consultants, and seasoned professionals. This is an amazing accomplishment for an undergraduate team and speaks to the relevance and potential of their venture idea,” English said. “Team Resense is going to do a lot of good in the world.”
David and Gilligan are also part of E+I’s VentureLab program, an idea feasibility lab that fosters entrepreneurship amongst students. After a successful run in the 2021 Wolverine Venture Battle that saw the team take home over $6,000 in cash prizes, they have advanced their idea with VentureLab support and they’ve done their research. “We completed over 50 interviews of mental health professionals specializing in dementia and memory loss diseases, as well as those affected by dementia and their families,” David said.
As a result, Resense’s Memory Box is filled with activities that can engage and stimulate the brain and relieve the stress on caregivers, most often family members, to find something for their loved ones to do.
“The box includes different items and activities that are targeted to exercise and strengthen specific senses that are lost as the disease progresses with the goal to increase memory recall,” David said. The contents run the gamut, from logical games and puzzles that exercise the mind, to essential oils that stimulate the senses, to adult coloring books to improve focus and soothe agitation, with a goal of entertaining and engaging a challenging audience.
For their BIG IdeaBounce pitch, David and Gilligan put together a case for Resense that identified a need for their product and explained how the Memory Box could uniquely address it for a definable market and make a sustainable profit. They also had to explain how the prize money would be used to further develop their idea and demonstrate that they have the skills, experience, and credentials to execute the plan.
“We couldn’t have done it without Grove,” Gilligan said. “We are a part of the VentureLab program where we receive mentoring and guidance while developing our company. Throughout the last year, we have had countless meetings with the department’s professors, and they have been integral to our success from the beginning.”
The winner of the competition – and the $50,000 prize – will be determined in March, when the top three finalists will face off in-person at Washington University of St. Louis. To vote for Resense for the competition’s People’s Choice Award, click here.
For more about Resense, visit resensebox.com.
For more about The Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation, visit gccentrepreneurship.com.