At the seventh annual Stumberg Venture Competition finals, change was in the air.
And research-oriented startup MicroLev, your new champion, actually has a tool to measure that: Co-founders Josefina Hajek-Herrera ’22, Bene Snyder ’22 and chemistry professor Ryan Davis have built an affordable aerosol research device that can detect and categorize particulate matter—tiny particles that float in the air around us.
"Our team has been working towards this goal for so long, and it feels incredible to have it all be affirmed in such a great way,” Snyder says. “This money will help us apply for a utility patent, which will be instrumental in allowing us to grow. We are so grateful for everyone who has helped us get here, and all of this is really a reflection of that."
It’s a timely priority, as this type of device can help with research surrounding global warming, airborne viruses, and more. And because these devices have previously cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, building a cheaper one will make this research more accessible to more schools, labs, and similar consumers across the country.
As Stumberg champions, MicroLev is now armed with a bit more change: $25,000 of grand prize money.
This award is the culmination of more than a year of hard work for the MicroLev team, which started the Stumberg process by taking home seed money from the Spring’s preliminary round, then honed their business model during Trinity’s Summer Accelerator. This 10-week phase gave each member of these teams summer housing, access to alumni consultants, business crash courses, as well as salaries for team members, all in preparation for the finals that just concluded this fall.
“The Stumberg competition is about more than one night, one grand prize, and one idea,” says Luis Martinez, director of Trinity’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “It's about gathering the resources and community to help make student ideas a reality. It's also about the journey, the tenacity of sticking with your dreams, and pivoting to meet each new challenge. Through our community here at Trinity and in San Antonio, each of these student startups—like dozens of others before them that are still active, have support to flourish and grow in the real world.”
The Stumberg competition, held annually and a part of San Antonio Startup Week in 2021, honors the legacy of the late San Antonio businessman and civic leader Louis H. Stumberg. MicroLev was joined in the finals by mobile traffic stop app Commuv, theatre nonprofit New Works SA, and innovative water sports product Wakescoot, which was awarded the fan favorite award at the competition.
But the journey for each of these competitors—and for Trinity’s network of aspiring and established entrepreneurs—doesn’t end here: Trinity students are constantly launching new businesses that aspire to be Trinity’s next breakthrough entrepreneurship success story.
Stay tuned to Trinity’s social media and website for updates on student ventures, and look out for the upcoming preliminary round of the eighth Stumberg competition, coming spring 2022!