Students present pitch
Strength to the Consumer
Stumberg startups aim to improve physical and financial health

At Trinity, entrepreneurship makes you stronger.

That’s the pitch for a pair of startups competing in the 2022 Louis H. Stumberg New Venture Competition, Trinity’s premier entrepreneurship incubator that wraps up this fall with a $25,000 grand prize at stake. Meet Range Rehab, the inventors of a physical therapy device that improves your shoulder’s range of motion, and ReCAP, the founders of a spending-habit app that aims to strengthen your financial health.

What excites Anthony (AJ) Bishop, a December ’22 senior, finance major, and founder of Range Rehab, is the feeling of making a difference for people who’ve been overlooked. “I feel like I'm actually helping people, because most physical therapists see knee, hip, and back patients, with shoulders being less common,” he says. “There's not as much innovation in that shoulder space, so I'm excited to be helping bring that innovation to it.”

The ReCAP team is co-founded by engineering majors Joey Hersh ’24 and Alexandra Garcia ’24, business analytics and technology major Max Hightower ’24, and neuroscience major Ashwin Ramesh ’24. This group wants to help users get rid of the anxiety that comes with trying to build savings.

“We actually want users to stop feeling like they have to count every single cent in their bank account,” Hersh says. “We want people to not worry if they make an impulse purchase every now and then. We see so many of our friends becoming anxious spenders, stressing about finances, and it sucks. We want to increase their financial literacy and give them confidence in their decisions.”

Things are speeding up for these two startups in advance of the October Stumberg Competition finals, where they’ll both make their final presentations among seven total startups. Here’s a look into how both teams have strengthened their pitches over the past 10 weeks, a special period of development for Stumberg Competition finalists known as the summer accelerator:

(On left) team members AJ Bishop '22 and Neha Kapur '22 with (right)The Range Rehab shoulder device

Changing Pitch

Both teams’ product pitches have developed significantly over the summer.

ReCAP has honed its app into a streamlined program that centers around step-by-step guidance toward meeting specific savings goals. The app automatically creates a personalized budget by identifying pain points in users’ spending and offering actionable advice to improve financial habits. “We basically added a roadmap-type layout, where each step is a new bit of advice,” Garcia says. “An example could be, ‘Hey, here is a different product, similar quality to what you buy, that's significantly cheaper.’ We’re specializing in goals now, like rent or saving for a car or motorcycle.”

And they’re leaning heavily on the interdisciplinary skills of their team, especially Hightower’s BAT and data science knowledge. “We’re taking advantage of a new type of data that nobody else has: data from receipts,” Hightower says. “You can upload a receipt, track the items that you bought, and that helps the app recommend different products. That is a massive shift in the industry that I think we can greatly capitalize on, and it's just fascinating getting to be on the forefront of a lot of these really interesting new technologies we're utilizing.”

Bishop’s shoulder device hasn’t so much changed in basic design as it has in general quality. “It's still, basically two arches, one small one, one big one, and you place a hand on each arch and the patient just grips to the collar and moves your hand along the arch. And it works for four rotator cuff muscles in coordination with the scapula,” Bishop says. “But now we want something that's not made out of PVC pipe. So we're actually building something with a nicer hand grip, with the lower and upper rungs both covered up.”

Students present poster

Big Benefits

Both teams have made such significant strides thanks in no small part to the support provided by the summer accelerator portion of the Stumberg competition.

By advancing from the prelims, each team gets $5,000 in seed money—but that’s just the beginning of the benefit to the accelerator. The teams also get free housing, wages for up to 40 hours a week for four employees, crash courses in business workshops and seminars, and invaluable networking opportunities within Trinity’s highly-developed network of alumni, as well as industry and fundraising connections.

“I personally think Trinity way undersells the prize package for making it to the finals,” Ramesh says. “It’s not just $5,000 for your company, but there are far, far more important aspects like housing: we wouldn't be able to live in San Antonio otherwise, so that’s critical. The stipend is critical because it means that we are able to really treat ReCap like our job, and we don't have to have secondary priorities. And a lot of the other resources they provide have also been really, really useful.”

For ReCap, the unsung hero of the summer period has actually been the fact that the competition was sponsored in part by Amazon Web Services, an IT management services division of the company.

“We were lucky enough to see $5,000 in Amazon web services credit, and $21,000 in credit for a service that we're utilizing called Plaid,” Ramesh continues. “And this is essential because our entire company essentially runs on Amazon web services.”

Both teams have grown thanks to networking opportunities, particularly at downtown co-working space Geekdom, where Stumberg finalists get free membership during the competition.

“Being part of the Trinity accelerator and the Geekdom incubator has helped me make a lot of connections in the San Antonio business community,” Bishop notes. “There’s a mentor at Geekdom who’s a consultant for small businesses, and she's offered me a weekly meeting for free all throughout the summer. That would probably be my most valuable connection. And then we've also gotten a lot of connections just from the networking events to find physical therapists who would be willing to take our device in for trials.”

The ReCap group say they’ve also enjoyed the Geekdom connection: “We met with new entrepreneurs who had successfully started up there, and there was no shortage of people who were experts in their field that we could just walk up and talk to,” Garcia says. “In diverse fields to everything from marketing to design, to machine learning, even. The connections have been absolutely phenomenal.”

AJ Bishop holds microphone

Final Steps

For both ReCap and Range Rehab, getting their business models to full strength by the finals will take some big next steps.

Bishop says Range Rehab is currently in the hands of local physical therapists, so he’ll need to show the judges some positive results. 

“We've used this summer to focus mostly on customer discovery, and we've been getting our device into physical therapists’ hands,” he says. “We have six using the device currently on a free trial basis, and they'll have the option to purchase it in December. So we’re hoping to keep expanding our free trial network, because the larger that number, the more impressive it'll be to the judges. Ideally, we will be able to start selling in late September, early October, and I'm hoping to have our first sales before that final pitch so that we can prove our concept to the judges.”

ReCap wants to continue honing its social media and marketing presence and have a solid set of results from beta testing. “We’re releasing our beta at the very start of September,” Hersh says. “So, we need to get as many users as we can on our waitlist. And we want to really just start getting feedback from live users so we’re able to say, ‘Here is how quickly we're saving users money.’”

But even with the final stretch in sight, Bishop says he’s not losing sight of the bigger picture: building a business that can shoulder all of his goals.

 “Yes, I've always wanted to own my own business, but I knew two things going in that I wanted the business to be centered around: one, I always knew I wanted to make a lot of money, obviously, but two, I didn't want to make it at the detriment of other people,” Bishop says. “I wanted to make a lot of money by helping a lot of other people. And so this opportunity combines those two together, because I'm not going to be taking anything away from customers. Hopefully, I'm aiding in their rehab process and making it faster. And after their rehab process is done, I'm giving them something that will hopefully help their shoulder stay strong enough to avoid going through another rehabilitation process.”

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

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