Former Jamaican World Cup soccer star Chris Thomas is used to winning. But Thursday night the Cornell engineering student celebrated a different sort of victory: He and his teammates, who created a business plan for battery company Widetronix, won DFJ Gotham’s second annual East Coast Venture Challenge. Now the real game begins.
Thomas and his Cornell teammates beat out 10 other startup companies from Ivy League universities, NYU and Carnegie Mellon for $250,000 in seed capital from DFJ. Their winning venture, Widetronix, is trying to make long-lasting batteries that they hope to market for use in pacemakers. Thomas and his fellow entrepreneurs used their engineering backgrounds to manufacture the devices themselves. But now this group of grad students has to turn their Ithaca, NY-based venture into a business.
The money should help: It will go toward developing a second generation prototype of the battery. But Thomas and his colleagues also have to make a few more hires, including a grown-up CEO. On the plus side: The company has already figured out that it needs to find multiple markets for the batteries, and is already making inroads with Lockheed Martin. The next goal: Raise another $5 million in a Series A, and try to get their product to market within a year.
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