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Funeral planning idea wins $25k top prize at UW student startup competition

The AfterLife Listings group from the College of Washington throughout a digital presentation. Clockwise from prime left: Co-founder Clara Kobashigawa, co-founder Aidan Shev and UX specialist Brendan Tran. (UW Photograph)

A group of College of Washington college students whose mission is to simplify planning and transactions associated to burial plots, has received the $25,000 grand prize within the 2021 Dempsey Startup Competition hosted by the UW Foster College’s Buerk Heart for Entrepreneurship.

AfterLife Listings and its on-line market beat out three different groups that reached the ultimate spherical of the all-virtual contest. The outcomes have been introduced on Friday. Now in its 24th yr, Dempsey Startup is designed to offer college students observe within the placing collectively a group, writing a marketing strategy, pitching to traders and studying the dynamics round enterprise creation.

The $15,000 second prize went to a UW and Olympic Faculty group known as Puget Buoy, “a inexperienced know-how startup creating experimental fishing gear designed to forestall whale entanglements and cut back misplaced fishing gear for the improved well being and sustainability of the seafood trade.”

Washington State College’s Ananta received third prize and $10,000 for “creating a bioreactor that may quickly develop T-cells to be used in most cancers immunotherapy with the aim of disrupting the cell-based remedy market.”

UW’s HealthXpress took fourth and $7,5000 for its plan to develop “refurbished cellular clinics to unravel the issue of well being inequality in underdeveloped international locations.”

AfterLife, which additionally received $2,500 for the Okay&L Gates Greatest Enterprise to Shopper Concept, is made up of co-founder Aidan Shev, a senior majoring in biochemistry and minoring in entrepreneurship; co-founder Clara Kobashigawa, a junior majoring in communications, gross sales certificates and minoring in entrepreneurship; and UX designer Brendan Tran, a junior majoring in informatics with a focus in human-computer interactions.

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Kobashigawa mentioned the thought originated after her household needed to say goodbye to a liked one and was shocked to see the dearth of value transparency and knowledge on-line with regard to buying a burial plot. After operating the thought by professor and mentor Alan Leong, she and Shev started working firstly of the yr.

“The very last thing a grieving accomplice or member of the family ought to must do is fear concerning the logistics of finest say goodbye to a liked one,” Kobashigawa mentioned. “That’s the reason we hope to behave as a useful resource for households going by this course of and to simplify the stress of discovering a burial plot.”

AfterLife Listings web site throughout a presentation. (UW Photograph)

The startup is pre-launch, however the group says it’s been involved with the overwhelming majority of King County cemeteries and is finalizing preliminary partnerships. The first income streams will stem from subscriptions, featured listings, value determinations, and financing. Tran mentioned his aim was to create a seamless and easy surroundings the place customers from all technical backgrounds might navigate the web site with none frustrations.

Tech has been gaining floor in a bid to modernize the companies round end-of-life choices. Portland-based Solace is simplifying cremation companies with on-line instruments and Seattle’s Recompose turns human stays into soil with its distinctive processes.

“We consider that gaining a foothold within the burial market will permit us to quickly department out into providing caskets, flowers, inexperienced burials, and different funeral companies on our web site,” Shev mentioned. “We hope to be the one-stop-shop for afterlife celebrations.”

The Dempsey competitors is open to undergrads and grad college students at schools and universities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and Alaska and attracted 100 entrants this yr representing 23 colleges.

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Thirty groups moved on to the Funding Spherical, which is the primary live-pitch/presentation portion of the competitors. Earlier than the pandemic, this was a “tradeshow model” in-person occasion. Groups this yr and final created their very own digital cubicles with breakout rooms and presentation supplies (slide decks, video, prototypes, and so on.) as a part of the competitors, in line with the UW.

Out of that group, 16 groups moved on to the Candy 16 spherical on Wednesday, and 4 groups moved on to current to a choose panel of Last Spherical judges on Thursday.

This yr’s prize cash totaled $90,000 — essentially the most ever. Over the previous 24 years, greater than 5,800 college students have participated, and 218 groups have been awarded undiluted seed funding totaling greater than $1.7 million.

Sleep apnea answer ApnoMed took house the highest prize final yr.

Right here is the entire record of 2021 prize winners, with video from Friday’s presentation under:

  • $25,000 Herbert B. Jones Basis Grand Prize — AfterLife Listings (UW)
  • $15,000 BECU Second Place Prize — Puget Buoy (Olympic Faculty + UW)
  • $10,000 WRF Capital Third Place Value — Ananta (WSU)
  • $7,500 Mates of the Dempsey Startup Fourth Place Prize — HealthXpress (UW)
  • $5,000 Glympse Web of Issues (IoT) Prize (tie — prize was cut up evenly) — Arc Safety (UW-Seattle and UW-Bothell) and CARA (Univ. of British Columbia)
  • $5,000 MOD Pizza Social Influence Prize — Sound Sustainability (UW)
  • $2,500 eBay Greatest Market Concept Prize — SongChain (UW + Dartmouth)
  • $2,500 Okay&L Gates Greatest Enterprise to Shopper Concept Prize — Afterlife Listings (UW)
  • $2,500 Perkins Coie Greatest Innovation/Tech Concept Prize — Ananta (WSU)
  • $2,500 DLA Piper Greatest Concept with International Attain Prize — GreenLoop (UW)
  • $2,500 Smukowski Household Greatest Sustainable Enterprise Prize — Puget Buoy (Olympic Faculty and UW)
  • $2,500 Saara Romu Basis Neighborhood Influence Prize — HealthXPress (UW)
  • $2,500 Thatcher & Shannon Davis Greatest Shopper Product Concept — Readability Core (UW-Seattle and UW-Bothell)
  • $2,500 Voyager Capital Greatest Enterprise to Enterprise Concept Prize — Bandit Labs (Univ. of British Columbia)
  • $2,500 Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Greatest Well being & Wellness Influence Concept Prize — VoxCell BioInnovations (Univ. of Victoria)
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