Social entrepreneurs are generally defined as people who create with the intent of having a large impact in the greater community. Innovation with a purpose, engineering for a cause– social entrepreneurs craft small solutions for big problems.
As a member of the Viterbi family, I’ve always been a problem solver; I was drawn to the idea of social entrepreneurship because of my combined interests of problem solving and community service. One of my goals upon graduating college was to impact the world in some way– when I came across the concept of social entrepreneurship this semester, I knew I had to dip my toes in somehow.
Luckily enough, Viterbi runs several different competitions and challenges for those interested in applying their engineering creativity to a greater cause. My friends and I decided to get together and pitch for the Min Family Engineering Social Entrepreneurship challenge (read more here), since all of us wanted to take the next steps in our engineering education and work towards helping the real world. The goal of the Min Family Challenge is “creating a technical solution to a social issue.” Effectively, the prompt was incredibly vague and could be interpreted every single possible way. We got our team together around 1am (spontaneous, just like everything in college), and cranked out some ideas right off the bat. After a few days, we decided to propose a medical device: an epi-pen type drug delivery device containing intramuscular anti-coagulants designed to slow the rate of stroke-induced brain damage. We wanted (and still aim) to create a device that can put those at high risk for stroke at ease– with our device, those who experience stroke would have a simple band-aid type solution on hand, allowing them a longer time to get to a hospital and receive proper IV treatment.
I wanted to blog about this because there are a lot of interesting steps that got us to this point, and it’s a really cool look into how business/product development works in the real world. We’re working with Dr. Eun Ji Chung, a biomaterials professor in the BME department, and have consulted physicians about the feasibility of our product. We have received positive reactions in these interactions and from other experts in the field. To simplify the process, check out the steps below:
- Get a team together (My team consists of my apartment, her former floor mate, and my former floor mate/now neighbor)
- Decide what all of you are passionate about!! 3 of the people in my team are biomedical engineers (including me), so naturally we went the health care route and designed a drug delivery system.
- Write a proposal, submit and cross your fingers!!
We submitted our proposal about two weeks ago, and it’s been such a whirlwind since.We just got accepted to the Maseeh Entrepreneurship Prize Competition (startup/product based competition that’s coordinated with the Min Challenge), got some money for customer discovery, got matched with a rad business mentor and now we get to engage in super cool product development workshops!! My team and I are SO excited to go forward in this competition. We have yet to hear back from the Min Family Challenge, but we’re crossing our fingers that we’ll make it through.
That’s it for now, I’ll come back and update this over the course of the year as we progress further into the competition.