Download Hi-Res Image • First Step Diagnostics placed 1st in the TECH SURGE category taking home $10,000, and placed 2nd in the Life Sciences category, taking home another $5,000. Pictured here are (L to R): Steve Huyn, senior licensing officer at UCI Applied Innovation, Beall Center Board Member and team mentor Chris Halliwell, Dave Ferguson (Entrepreneur), team member Hannah Mylabathula, FTMBA ’19, and Doug Crawford, senior licensing officer from the Invention Transfer Group at UCI Applied Innovation. • UCI Paul Merage School of Business

Fourteen teams walk away with more than $100,000 in cash and prizes following final round of UCI New Venture Competition

By UCI Paul Merage School of Business

Irvine, CA - (June 01, 2018) - Fifty-four teams competed in the final round of the 2018 New Venture Competition held Friday, May 18 at the UCI Paul Merage School of Business.  Fourteen of those teams walked away with cash and prizes valued at more than $100,000.  The event was hosted by the Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in collaboration with UCI Applied Innovation.

Winners of the 2018 New Venture Competition included, by category:

Category: Life Sciences

Winner ($10,000): Mechanodontics

  • Mechanodontics (MD) makes braces that alleviate numerous obstacles faced by orthodontists and their patients by cutting average treatment time from two years to one year or less; decreasing the average number of appointments from 25 to 6; eliminating laborious manual wire bending by the orthodontist; replacing visible braces with completely discreet behind-the-teeth braces; reducing treatment pain through low and constant force; and, improving oral hygiene by allowing regular maintenance such as flossing and brushing.
  • Team Members: Zahra Mamaghani (Ph.D. Electrical Engineering); Mahdi Tehrani (PhD. Electrical Engineering), Mehdi Peikar (Resident in Orthodontics at UCLA), Ishita (Undergraduate at UCLA) James Wratten

Second Place Winner ($5,000): First Step Diagnostics

  • First Step Diagnostics is a technology used to diagnose behavioral issues in young patients as early as three weeks after birth. With early diagnosis, families can begin behavioral intervention techniques, which can save them upwards of $1 million in care costs over the patient’s lifetime.
  • Team Members: Max Lechner (FTMBA ’19), Hannah Mylabathula (FTMBA ’19), Elizabeth Chao (M.D.), Dave Ferguson (Entrepreneur)

Category: Social Enterprise

Winner ($10,000): Apeel Juice

  • By sourcing cosmetically defective produce from local farms, Apeel Juice reduces both cost and food waste.
  • Team Members: Keene Do (Business Admin), Jacqueline Kao (Graphics and Fine Arts), Matthew Nguyen (Economic/International Studies), Huan Quach (Business Economics)

Second Place Winner ($5,000): CarDana

  • CarDana exists to democratize charitable vehicle donations bringing transparency, efficiency and higher net proceeds to millions of causes nationally
  • Team Members: Anthony Glenn, Jan Biermeyer, Gonzalo Vargas (Undeclared Major), Derek Singh (Business Administration)

Category: Business Products and Services

Winner ($10,000): Celebrate in a Snap

  • SNAP is an all-in-one party supply package, that comes complete in a unique functional box.  A one-of-a kind in the party supplies industry.
  • Team Members: Jyothi Pradhan (FEMBA, ’18), Emily Chan (FEMBA, ’19), Jose Enrique Hernandez, Junaid Ahmed (FEMBA, ’19)

Second Place Winner ($5,000): SolarLab

  • Solar Lab is a community and district level solar PV system design tool for individual homeowners and commercial projects looking to install solar panels. 
  • Team Members: Hao Peng (Business Admin), Yanchen Wu (Mechanical Engineering), Jiale Chen (Business Econ), Edward Li (Business Admin)

Category: Consumer Products

Winner ($10,000): ARTEM

  • ARTEM (ART Electronic Market) is an online platform that aims to create a community for underground artists aged 18-24 selling their art at affordable prices to the general public.
  • Team Members: Emily Vu (Physics), Cesar Corral (Civil Engineering), Matthew Peterson (Computer Sciences)

Second Place ($5,000): Gimme

  • The Gimme app helps consumers struggling to decide where to eat.
  • Team Members: Dhananjay Kumar (FEMBA ’19), Philip Erford (FEMBA ’19), Brenton Higa (FEMBA ’19), John Dang (FEMBA ’19), Justin McDonald (Undeclared)

Category: Consumer Services

Winner ($10,000): Wing

  • Wing offers proprietary technology enabling companies to be sustainably competitive.
  • Team Members: Karan Kanwar (Computer Sciences), Martin Gomez (Computer Science), Tod Srisengfa (Film and Media), Monish Ramadoss (Computer Science), Jackson Wickman (Engineering)

Second Place Winner ($5,000): Graduate Data

  • Graduate Data is a social networking platform where high school students can receive mentoring in the form of relevant, customized information from college students with similar backgrounds.
  • Team Members: Mohammad Fidaali, Daniel Dai (EMBA, ’18), Emily Walker (FEMBA ’19), David Liu (PhD candidate, Education)

Category: TECH SURGE

Winner ($10,000): First Step Diagnostics

  • First Step Diagnostics is a technology used to diagnose behavioral issues in young patients as early as three weeks after birth. With early diagnosis, families can begin behavioral intervention techniques, which can save them upwards of $1 million in care costs over the patient’s lifetime.
  • Team Member: Max Lechner (FTMBA ’19), Hannah Mylabathula (FTMBA ’19), Elizabeth Chao (MD), Dave Ferguson (Entrepreneur)

Second Place Winner ($7,500): Closed Loop Plastics

  • Closed Loop Plastics is comprised of artists and engineers who work together to overcome the technical and infrastructure based challenges presented by current plastic recycling methods.
  • Team Members: William Amos (Environmental Engineering), Aldrin Lupisan (Environmental Engineering), Jesse Jackson (Assistant Professor, Arts), Sharon To (Computer Science), Ivette Morales (Art)

Third Place Winner ($5,000): LaserFocus

  • LaserFocus is developing a hand-held, reusable laser device that is cheaper to manufacture than tools currently available on the market.
  • Team Members: Natalie Wong (Biomedical Engineering), Nasam Chokr (Biomedical Engineering), Anthony Ricaldi (Material Science Engineer),  (Material Science Engineering), Brad Padgitt (FEMBA ’18), Bryan Ou (Computer Engineer), Michael Nguyen (Mechanical Engineer)

Fourth Place Winner ($2,500): EchoSol

  • EchoSol’s software reduces multiple forms of user variability, helping physicians make more accurate and robust decisions about their patients’ health. The software also improves workflow efficiency by automating the sonographers’ routine task of calculating cardiac segmentation, saving them up to 20 minutes per patient.
  • Team Members: Arghavan Arafati (Biomedical Engineering), Yen Cathy Pham (Business Admin), Kasra Karimian (Staff, Environmental Health and Safety), Mohit Pandita (FTMBA ’18)

Teams were judged by a panel of professionals made up of experienced investors, entrepreneurs, and senior business practitioners familiar with early stage companies. Teams were evaluated on the strength of their plan and overall presentation.  Other evaluation factors included:

  • Size and growth rate of the market addressed
  • Likelihood that the team can create a sustainable competitive advantage
  • Simplicity of the business model described
  • Believability of the team’s vision and plan

Now in its 12th year the New Venture Competition provides hands-on opportunities for students to learn about the process of innovation and entrepreneurship. 

About the Sponsors:

The New Venture Competition is sponsored by UCI Applied Innovation, Edwards Lifesciences, UCI Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation, Irvine Company, Niagara Bottling Company and Stradling Attorneys at Law.  

About the Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

One of seven Centers of Excellence at UC Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business, the Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship was established to help business visionaries transfer their ideas into viable business opportunities, either in new ventures or within existing organizations. Students can engage with the Center through curricular programs offered including a Minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship and a Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, or through programs like the New Venture Competition. Through leadership, education, and potential partnerships, the Center creates an environment that fosters a connection among world-class UC Irvine researchers, innovative visionaries, savvy business leaders, creative venture capitalists and pivotal business channels. This connection inspires innovation and entrepreneurship, and provides the hands-on opportunities for students to learn. Find out more here

About The Paul Merage School of Business

The Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine offers four dynamic MBA programs – plus PhD, specialty masters and undergraduate business degrees – that prepare business leaders for our digitally driven world. Through our programs, students acquire the exceptional ability to grow their organizations through strategic innovation, analytical decision-making, digital information technology and collaborative execution. While the Merage School is relatively young, it has quickly grown to rank consistently among the top five percent of all business programs worldwide through exceptional student recruitment, world-class faculty, a strong alumni network and close relationships with both individual business executives and global corporations. Additional information is available at