Sensor-equipped electronic skateboards and platforms for better sentence comprehension were among the big ideas that caught the attention of judges at Morgan State University first time Bear Tank field competition.
Only four of the 12 finalists in the contest, which Morgan State hosts for students in late October, took home the $1,000 award. Funding forShark tank“Award-inspired competition comes from a grant that the university and its Center for Entrepreneurship Development and Assistance (EDAC) obtained through Blackstone Charity Foundation LaunchPad program, designed to support entrepreneurship in schools primarily serving students from underrepresented communities.
One of the winners is Sagar Gurunga 40-year-old architectural graduate student who this year completed a prototype for his work Sotantra OD electric skateboard. Unlike other skateboards, the Sotantra is equipped with four inches of clearance and air tires to tackle all-terrain conditions. The board includes semi-autonomous obstacle detection, and the current battery pack provides 30 miles of range on a single charge. It is currently designed with environmental sustainability in mind, with Gurung saying it is mostly made of bamboo.
“It gives a range of 30 miles, and it’s all-terrain, so it can go all over the city,” Gurung . said technical.ly. “Or you can go to the recreation track. The idea is to have more optimal mobility for everyone, for basic needs [like] going to work and coming home, or doing other relaxing things.”
The creators of Sotantra took development slowly and eventually sought to market the product through a brick-and-mortar location in Baltimore, where he could offer it as a lifestyle product. That includes offering riding lessons and allowing users to customize their own boards.
The $1,000 he won through the Bear Tank social and climate impact pathway — one of four categories in which finalists can compete — will be used to find stronger, sustainable materials for the Sotantra battery case. The bamboo battery case has shown itself to be a weak point in the board’s design, he says, and doesn’t withstand repeated use very well.
Regardless, the creator is committed to Baltimore and figuring out if he can use Sotantra as a real business catalyst for himself and his neighbors.
“That’s how I want to develop this product and market this product, and get it out to people who want to drive and have freedom of movement,” Gurung said. “The basic goal is to start here in Baltimore. We have a lot of open space.”
One of Gurung’s competitors, 25 year old Morgan State MBA student Oluwakayode His servicesalso took home a $1,000 award to support the app he founded, Writer. His services, who is also pursuing a STEM master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, developed the app after he and business partner Elizabeth Ogun discovered that writing skills are a recurring challenge for many people — about 40% of Americans, according to his services research.
Scribe aims to address that problem with a template-driven system. His merits compare his versatility and sentence analysis capabilities with canvas and grammareach.
“Imagine a space where everyone has access to become a better writer,” he said. “That’s what Scribes do. We understand the people we will help will be in institutions with students — say, high school or college. There will be less burden on the writing center because there will be other ways for students to become better writers.”
He added that the venture had won another small field competition prize. While he’s cautious about spending, he anticipates that most of the Bear Tank awards will fund the contractor’s app development work.
Scribe is also validating its possible customer base. The partner looks forward to meeting the academic chair at Montgomery . College in Rockville, Maryland, with a hopeful future meeting thanks to the EDAC connection.
His services won the competition in the general business category. Morgan State sophomore Monique Roman win in health and life science path for his company Amor Fitness, which develops fitness-specific clothing such as underwear for women. The winners of the consumer product and service line are the seniors Ryan Jones and Christian Turciowhich Rush Diagnostics The app helps people quickly diagnose problems with their cars before finding a local autobody shop.
Gurung, like Jasanya, describes the Bear Tank experience as a motivating force.
“When a platform validates an idea you have, it helps [you] to take it to the next level to actually come out on the market commercially,” he said.
The EDAC staff, for their part, were pleased with the results of their Bear Tanks. They plan to continue working with the winners, who are now eligible to compete in Blackstone’s national intercollegiate field competition and won $10,000.
“We’re the newest kid on the block for Blackstone, so we’ll be up against some heavy hitters,” said the EDAC codirector Danielle Frisby. “I will do as much as I can to see them get as much exposure as possible, so that we can achieve development. [and] find out what works best.”