After observing the cognitive decline shown by a grandfather who suffered from Alzheimer’s, Gonzalez was inspired to create a tool that would slow the devastating effects of the disease. His and Sadler’s proposed device will create personalized virtual reality experiences out of photos, videos and stories supplied by family members.
The pair cited research showing a link between cognitive stimulating therapy and delayed memory loss. The plan they discussed and shared on a large screen considered costs, financing, marketing, competitors, FDA approval and other business considerations.
“We’re offering customized and unique experiences for each patient,” Sadler said during the competition at RE. “We want to help patients, we want to help caregivers, we want to help doctors – and we want to help our investors make a lot of money.”
At the April 19 event, the Gonzalez and Sadler topped teams from Pine Crest School (second place) along with Gulliver Prep, Belen Jesuit, Hebrew Academy, American Heritage, Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, St. Andrew's and Columbus High.
At the RE competition, four other finalist teams from RE’s Global Studies Entrepreneurship and AP Macro/Microeconomics classes presented their plans on March 7. Jackson McAliley ’23 made a pitch for Blueview, a tool designed to simplify and speed up the permitting process for architects, builders and contractors. Nico Imery ’24, Ryan Weisburd ’24 and Alexander Defortuna ’24 presented a plan for HireHero, an app designed to connect college and high school students with job opportunities. Jack Pollock ’24 and Paul Gould ’24 shared their plan for Lumin, a reflective and eco-friendly clothing line for runners, workers and cyclists. Ian Fox ’24, Victoria Paralouki de Miranda ’24, Elliot Gross ’24 and Mike Zoi ’24 shared their idea for Threturn, a company designed to take the return process out of the hands of businesses, reducing waste and increasing donations to those in need.
The judging panel: John Humphreys ‘88, a University of Chicago graduate who has worked in the international investment banking sector; Trae Williamson ‘90, a Princeton and Columbia Law School grad who now teaches at the University of Miami business school; Michael Newman ‘98, a Princeton graduate who worked at Microsoft before founding Big Duck Games; and Jamila Stephens ‘12, a University of Miami and FIU business school graduate who is now a junior data analyst for the Miami Heat.
The judges asked questions of each team, then selected the winner. The business plan challenge at RE is organized and administered by Humanities Department Chair Jen Nero; she had assistance from humanities faculty members Brandon King and Benjamin Yeo. The event is sponsored by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).
“The students were amazing,” said Richard Jackson, NFTE advisory board chair. They demonstrated that “in the thoroughness of their presentations and in the ability to stand up to some really tough questions.”