2021 Stumberg Finalists Ready to Make an Impact
Four new Trinity student companies aim to impress the judges
Friday, October 8, 2021
Stumberg competition title card

Four startups are set for the final round of Trinity’s Louis H. Stumberg Venture Competition on Tuesday, October 19, 2021.

This competition honors the legacy of the late San Antonio businessman and civic leader Louis H. Stumberg. At stake is $25,000 of grand prize money, representing an incredible boost to all of these companies. Starting at 4 p.m., anyone with a Tiger Card can attend the event in person at Ruth Taylor Recital Hall, and everyone will be able to tune in to Trinity’s Tiger Network at https://www.trinity.edu/live to stream the competition live.

This is a final that will build on more than a year of hard work, innovation, and growth: Each of the finalists, Commuv, MicroLev, New Works SA, and Wakescoot, have already taken 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, and business crash courses, as well as salaries for team members. 

From making research more accessible, improving traffic stops, innovating water sports, and bringing creative drama to the stage, each Stumberg Prize finalist has a chance to change the world. Now, get to know each of these businesses aspiring to be Trinity’s next breakthrough entrepreneurship success story.

Michael Marquez and Jalen White point at a computer screen with screenshots of the Commuv app

Commuv

Jalen White ’23 and Michael Marquez ’22

Commuv envisions a traffic stop conducted safely over the phone using video communication.

The startup's software connects police officers and drivers through short-range technology and mobile applications, reducing the need for direct contact during traffic stops.

“We’re two basketball teammates that turned business partners because we recognized an opportunity to improve transparency between law enforcement and the community,” says White, an international business major from St. Louis. 

“With Commuv, we aim to eliminate any unnecessary tension between the officer and the driver,” says Marquez, an engineering science major from Phoenix. “In a post-COVID world, we’re already practicing virtual communication, so let’s apply that to the traffic stop.” 

Chemistry equipment

MicroLev

Josefina Hajek-Herrera ’22, chemistry professor Ryan Davis, and Bene Snyder ’22

Studying aerosols is a vital process for scientists, but also a costly one. Aerosol research devices that can detect and categorize these particles cost in the hundreds of thousands. So, Trinity startup MicroLev is aiming to build a more affordable one.

“Aerosols impact every aspect of our lives, and we don’t even realize it,” says Davis, who founded MicroLev alongside Hajek-Herrera and Snyder. 

“By making analytical instruments more accessible, we can get closer to understanding threats like COVID-19 and climate change that affect us all,” Snyder says, while Hajek-Herrera adds, “This is an opportunity you don’t get at most universities. I couldn’t have asked for a better professor to work with, because I’m pursuing my passions, and I’m having a blast doing it.”

several students pose during a closing scene of a play, with the central character holding a guitar

New Works SA

Wren Ramos ’23 and Taylor Condron '22

New Works SA is a nonprofit theatrical education program designed to make theater accessible in areas where the arts are underserved. They envision a space where theater is for everyone, and everyone is included.

This attitude led the team to form a nonprofit organization because of their firmly-held belief that theater is for everyone.

“There’s something really empowering about the ability to put on a show that is original to you,” Ramos adds. “You’re not often taught how to put on your own work; you’re taught how to act other people’s work. We want to show that there is space for new topics and creations in this area.” 

Wakescoot jumping in Miller Fountain

WakeScoot

Ryan Arnold ’24, Carson Byrd ’24, AJ Townsend ’24, Cannon Starcke ’24, and Andrew Koob '23

After a century of innovation, the world of watersports has dried up a bit, says Trinity finance major Carson Byrd ’24.

So Byrd, along with teammates Ryan Arnold ’24, Cannon Starcke ’24, and Alec “AJ” Townsend ’24, have launched Wakescoot, a startup that’s aiming to bring scooters to the water. Starcke, a marketing major, says he’s excited about the new possibilities of this combo. “Water sports have always been a big fun party, where everyone’s out on the water, and the more the merrier.”

Using funds from the accelerator, the group added Andrew Koob ’23 as an engineer and designer. “[Koob] took a little bit of all our ideas,” Townsend adds, “and it was cool to see how that all came together.”

 

Jeremiah Gerlach is the brand journalist for Trinity University Strategic Communications and Marketing.

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