Higea Tech Takes Top Prize at TechPitch Competition
November 04, 2015
Higea Technologies, a Cal Poly student startup that uses a magnetic nanotechnology to separate oil and water recovered from oil spills, took top prize at the fifth annual TechPitch competition.
The event, held Oct. 21 at the Alex Madonna Expo in San Luis Obispo, Calif., provided a forum for six select up-and-coming Central Coast companies to pitch their business ideas to a group of investors and industry professionals. All six finalists were sponsored by Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE).
“The judges and investors all liked the fact that we’re using new age technology to have such a positive impact on the environment,” said Tanner Cook, a mechanical engineering senior and CEO of Higea Tech.
The team, which includes three engineering students, will use the $5,000 TechPitch prize for product development and refinement, as well as to file patents on the company’s new technology.
In addition to Cook, co-founders of the company include Wyatt Nelson, product development director, an aerospace engineering senior; Morgan Gramling, director of fundraising, a recent environmental management and protection graduate; and Parker Sommerville, director of chemical development, a biochemistry junior. A new member of the team, Zoheb Mohammed, business development director, is a graduate student in industrial engineering.
The team recently completed a 12-week summer program at CIE’s SLO HotHouse — an entrepreneurial "bootcamp” that provides a focused setting and a concentration of resources to speed and nurture the development of promising companies.
The experience helped them gain a cross-section of entrepreneurial skills, including the art of the pitch.
“If we’d given the pitch we used seven months ago, we would’ve been laughed out of the room,” said Cook. “We’ve come a long way in terms of our pitching skills because of SLO Hothouse and our advisors who helped us refine it into something wonderful.”
Higea Tech was launched last spring at CIE’s Innovation Quest competition, where the startup won the $10,000 Parsons Innovation Award.
Pictured, left to right: Parker Sommerville, Morgan Gramling, Tanner Cook and Wyatt Nelson, co-founders of Higea Technologies. Not pictured: Zehab Mohammed, director of fund raising.