It’s not every day that you step onto a stage to share your idea. It’s also not every day to then be handed a check to help make your dream a reality. But last month, two TechFW members did just that at the Texas A&M New Ventures Competition in College Station and won big. Among the 20 companies competing, Tyler Sickels, founder of SolGro, was awarded $20,000 and Tre Welch, founder of Trémedics Medical Devices, was awarded $25,000. In addition, these founders were the only ones from North Texas to qualify to compete this year.
The Texas A&M New Ventures Competition was founded on the idea to showcase Texas-based startup companies seeking to bring a new or enhanced science or technology to the market. This is the 8th year of the TNVC competition with a prize pool totaling more than $540,000.
Most finalists came from the Austin, Houston, and College Station areas, with 40% showcasing medical device technology. Other technology categories included Energy, IT, and Agriculture.
SolGro, founded by Tyler Sickels, finished second after three rounds of pitch presentations. The company's products embed advanced nano-materials into greenhouse glazing to convert wasted sunlight into usable light for increased plant photosynthesis, enabling greater production faster.
Sickels shared some of his pitch pointers with us coming out of the competition. “Know your company backwards and forwards. Market, Customer, Team, Technology, and most importantly any negatives associated with that.” He went on to share that confidence on stage comes from knowing your business thoroughly and being able to articulate it clearly and succinctly. “The way to fail is to either be too complicated or not anticipate the questions that will poke holes in your company. It is completely fine and normal to not have all the answers but show a path to how you will learn them and execute from there,” said Sickels.
Tré Welch, founder of Trémedics, won his award from the Southwest Pediatric Consortium Sponsor. Trémedics innovates and leads the way for bioresorbable stent technology for congenital heart disease to improve the lives of children.
While Welch did not pitch in this year’s competition, he does have advice for medical device companies looking to pitch their ideas to investors. First suggestion? Know your business better than the judges. “[I’ve seen] many pitches discussing clinical need but did not have a product market fit. Absolutely know the product market fit in medical device.”
Welch also shared that knowing your entire pathway helps to show judges you’ve thought through your pitch, “Know your pathway from ideation, prototyping, locking a design, testing and regulatory. In medical devices, most judges want to know how you plan to navigate the FDA and how your products are reimbursed.” Lastly, know how you plan to sell your product. Whether you plan to go the B2B or B2C route, be prepared to answer questions on selling the product, use cases, and knowledge of the market areas as you plan to bring it nationwide.
Any entrepreneur knows that in order to get others to believe in your product or your company, they have to first believe in you. Perfecting your pitch to build trust and authority with any audience builds the confidence needed to continue pursuing your dream. If you’re lucky, you could earn the funding to lead you to success for your business.
Congratulations again to all the TNVC 2022 winners and to our TechFW members on coming out with a winning idea and a winner’s check!