APU’s entrepreneurial workshop and business plan competition, ZuVenturez, came to a conclusion on the night of Nov. 17.
The seven remaining teams gave their final pitches before the audience and judge panel, all competing for the $15,000 grand prize money to launch their own businesses.
The judges picked winners based ultimately on how viable they thought the innovations would be in the business world.
The criteria was based on the need for the innovation and sustainability of the business.
PreceptMe, a mobile application designed to connect health care students to preceptors, landed first place.The project is led by graduate student and APU’s School of Nursing program manager Maritza Grissom.
Grissom explained that a preceptor is a health care provider who volunteers to mentor students in a clinical setting.
“[Most] health care professions require you [to] complete a certain amount of hours [with a preceptor] while you’re in graduate school,” Grissom explained.
With this in mind, Grissom described the need for the app.
“Right now, students will cold-call and send out emails. But because health care professionals are busier than ever, it’s very rare [to] get that email back or phone call returned,” Grissom said.
PreceptMe allows preceptors to easily answer students with a simple yes or no.
“Even if it’s a no, at least they’re showing respect getting back to the student,” Grissom said.
The app will also track the hours that preceptors volunteer. This allows them to easily report the hours they’ve volunteered to their state board.
Grissom is also planning to use the platform for charity.
“Every time they swipe right to match with a student, they have the opportunity to determine where 10 to 15 percent of our profits go,” Grissom said.
After working for four years at University of California Riverside’s (UCR) School of Medicine under the dean of education, Grissom began working at APU’s School of Nursing.
“I see the need that our students have,” Grissom said. “One thing that [our] School of Nursing pride themselves on is that we have a clinical placement team that finds their preceptors.”
While not all students are guaranteed to find preceptors, “[The School of Nursing does] place most of our students,” Grissom said.
However, the process is a difficult one. In Grissom’s words, “You can’t be too picky.” PreceptMe is designed to give medical students more power to decide between preceptors.
Grissom was searching for programmers to help make her dream a reality when she heard of the ZuVenturez platform. Having attended a public university for her education, Grissom said she “was surprised APU had a program like ZuVenturez. You don’t find this everywhere!”
She said that regardless of whether or not PreceptMe won the prize money, she is thankful for all the time invested in her and for the mentoring and coaching she received.
During the business planning, Grissom was introduced to senior graphic design major Chris Sequeira. The two began collaborating, with Grissom’s ideas fueling Sequeira’s visual presentations.
“If you saw my PowerPoint before [Sequeira] came on board, you probably would’ve laughed,” Grissom said.
With the application still in the conceptual phases, Sequeira helped Grissom’s presentations illustrate the potential screens and functions of a mock-up app to better communicate her ideas.
“He took what I was envisioning and put it on a screen,” Grissom said. “I couldn’t have done that. Up until that point, it was all in my head.”
Sequeira described the process as a learning experience. He said his initial thought was that he had “no idea what to do here, but [to] give it [his] best shot.”
“It was a good collaborative process,” Sequeira said. “Now I have this knowledge to take to future employers.”
Victory, however, in the ZuVenturez arena was hardly assured for their team.
“Every week, everyone jumped up 10 steps in their presentation, design work [and] financials,” Grissom said. “Even though we had a lot of interest, I never took it for granted that we won.”
Sequeira said he was wary of their competition, particularly Urban Vinyl and Lord’s Light, which had already produced physical products.
“[Still], with headphones, you’re always going to need to be up-to-date, making new products,” Sequeira said. “With PreceptMe, you make the app and update it once in a while. Over time, it’s going to be one of those long-lasting products.”
The team is putting the $15,000 prize money toward the development of the PreceptMe app.
“It’ll probably take four to five months to develop the app,” Grissom said. “From there we’ll do some beta testing, [and] the hope is to launch by fall next year.”
Nate Lu, director of the Office of Innovators, said he believes PreceptMe solves a long-lasting problem.
“I think in this digital age, we see a lot of entrepreneurs trying to be more efficient. No one has found a way to optimize this until now. PreceptMe used a digital platform to provide an efficient solution,” Lu said.
Lord’s Light, producing an already-patented light bulb utilizing decorative filaments, placed second and secured $3,000. Thread Safe, a company seeking to manufacture antibacterial hospital garments and linens, came in third place, winning $2,000.