Isaac Daudelin (center) holds his $3,000 prize from Capital One with his business partners and NJIT professor Michael Elrich.
In spring 2012, Isaac Daudelin, a sophomore biology major at NJIT, enrolled in an interdisciplinary design studio course in the university's honors college, where students work with faculty advisers on their own unique research projects. After agreeing on the idea to create an inexpensive medical device that would eliminate the pain of needles during shots or blood tests without the use of anesthetics, Daudelin and his team members — mechanical engineering major Brian Taylor, biology major Jeremy Jen and electrical engineering major William Heberling — developed a basic prototype of their invention through $3,000 provided by their professor, who entered their TouchCare company into Capital One's Newark Innovation Acceleration Challenge.
After receiving a $3,000 prize at that competition last fall — as well as pro bono small-business services and mentorship to further develop the concept through a fellowship at Capital One's learning laboratory in NJIT's technology incubator — Daudelin and his business partners were entered into a multi-college contest sponsored by the banking giant, where they took home the first-place ribbon and another $3,000 in seed capital on Feb. 8.
"It costs money for the lab materials, and to get some software to model how it would work instead would also cost money, so this a great help towards getting into the next stage of field testing, whichever way we decide to do it," Daudelin said. "We're past the theoretical stage, and now we're ready to take our theory to the lab, and this funding is what will allow us to do that."
After the students finish testing their TouchCare device on live neurons to guarantee its application, Daudelin said they will apply for a patent and attempt to obtain necessary approvals to bring their company to the marketplace.
In the meantime, the students are hoping to secure yet another $3,000 round of startup funding from Capital One, as the bank is currently giving its social media audience a vote to distribute the additional capital to one of the three winners of the Cross Campus Challenge through its "Investing for Good" Facebook site
Daniel Delehanty, senior vice president of community development banking at Capital One, said in an e-mail the bank decided to sponsor the three-tiered competition and invest in student entrepreneurship because "it is an investment in the future of our communities."
"Every young entrepreneur needs support and a guiding hand to learn how to launch and grow a business, especially when they're first starting out," Delehanty said. "With the Cross Campus Challenge, student entrepreneurs have the chance to receive additional seed capital and mentorship, (and) an opportunity to engage with peers from different schools across the Northeast, as well as pro bono accounting and legal services."