The Wond’ry is proud to support student ventures through our robust Entrepreneurship programs and through providing microgrant funding to their startups. Here are just a few of the awesome projects the Wond’ry has helped to sponsor!
Vanderbilt PhD student Stephanie Castillo’s media company Phuture Doctors is committed to diversifying representation in the STEM workforce and academia. She is changing the perception of who can be a scientist through engaging media content.
- Won the Entrepreneur Organization’s Pitch Competition and traveled to San Francisco to compete in the finals
- Won 1st Place in the Science in Video Competition from the Materials Research Society First generation American and first in her family to graduate college
- One of 17 people selected for a Science Filmmaking Workshop out of 700 that applied
- Designed her own PhD program in Science Communication
- Before starting Phuture Doctors, she found 391 STEM Channels on YouTube, but only 32 with female hosts and 0 hosted by a Person of Color
Zeno Power Systems
Tyler Bernstein and Jonathan Segal are developing a next-generation radioisotope power system that converts the heat from recycled nuclear waste into electricity. Their novel fuel and shielding design results in a system that is lightweight, cost-effective, and provides always-on, resilient power for years at a time.
- Wond’ry’s first team of undergraduate students to be accepted into the prestigious National Science Foundation’s National I-Corps program. This program provided the students with $50K in non-dilutive funding.
- Finalists for YCombinator and accepted into Techstars
- Received a grant from the Airforce and investment from the 1517 Fund
- Represented Vanderbilt in Washington, D.C. at the AAU/APLU Innovation Showcase
- Finalists in the 36|86 Student Pitch Competition
- Both Forbes 30 under 30 Recipients
When Pedro Teixeira and Ravi Atreya first visited the Wond’ry, they had decided to put medical school on hold for a year to build a company, Prediction Health. Their AI-assisted scribe technology listens in during doctor-patient interactions and generates comprehensive, structured documentation in real-time. This documentation integrates with EMR systems and saves doctors hours each day.
- Won the 36|86 Student Pitch Competition and took home $25K
- First company in Nashville to be funded by Mucker Labs
- Won 1st place in the Vanderbilt Entrepreneurship Conference’s Pitch Competition
- Currently serving physicians across the U.S.
- Pedro was invited to speak on entrepreneurship at the 2020 Southeastern Entrepreneurship Conference
- Received a $50K grant from the National Science Foundation
Leaf Global Fintech uses blockchain technology and a lowtech front end to create a suite of mobile financial services for refugees and internally displaced persons.
- Won Best Bootstrapped Startup at SXSW
- Accepted into Techstars
- Received an SBIR Grant from the National Science Foundation
- Was invited to pitch at the Vatican in response to a call the Pope issued for solutions to the refugee crisis–The Laudato si’ Challenge
- Recipient of the World Summit Awards Young Innovator Award
- Tori moved to Rwanda last year to run the company full-time
- Leaf currently employs 8 people and is operating in 5 countries in Africa
Very Real Help
Vanderbilt student Noah Robinson’s company, Very Real Help, is designing a novel approach to addiction treatment using virtual reality. He is currently running a study at Journey Pure, an in-patient drug rehabilitation center, to measure how virtual reality can change emotion and he hopes to expand this intervention to treat several types of mental health disorders.
- One of the Wond’ry’s 1st teams to receive $50K from the National Science Foundation
- Has been featured in the Tennessean, USA Today, and other news articles
- Talks openly about how gaming was his escape from anxiety when he realized he was gay during his teenage years and this led to the idea for Very Real Help
- Research Fellow for the National Institutes of Health Is actively testing his treatment platform and has received offers to license it
Vanderbilt Computer Science undergraduate Brionna Davis is putting her gifts to work solving the challenge Black and Brown people face when trying to choose makeup shades that match their skin tone. Using cutting-edge developments in AR technology, Brionna is working to build a consumer-facing solution called Shades that would be utilized by cosmetic companies on their e-commerce websites.
- Recent Spring 2020 PostLaunch program graduate and microgrant winner
- Is applying to the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program
- Top Ten Finalist in the Peter Farrell Cup, an idea pitch competition
- Spent a summer conducting research in Bavaria, where she was first author on a paper about traffic flow patterns that was featured in a presentation by the Transportation Research Board
Twin brothers Brad and Tim Potteiger are building a revolutionary cybersecurity company, Arms Cyber. Their extensive backgrounds with the CIA, NSA, NASA, and White House have positioned them as leaders in cyber defense and their novel solution provides proactive protection strategies to prevent cyber attacks utilizing a moving target defense approach.
- Have met 4 sitting United States Presidents
- Won 1st Place in the 2020 Southeastern Entrepreneurship Conference’s Student Pitch Competition
- A battery technology Tim created is on the Mars Rover
- Won multiple best paper awards for their research, at least one of which has been read by Bill Gates
- Have prevented large scale cyber attacks
- Won the Owen Sohr Grant
- Brad was the Top Graduate PhD Engineering Student at Vanderbilt in May 2020
- Over 1200 people from around the country tuned in virtually for Brad’s dissertation defense
Vanderbilt alum Christal Hector developed the idea for her startup, TuneHatch, during her senior year while participating in Wond’ry programming. TuneHatch is a company that empowers everyday people to host amazing music experiences with talented independent artists in their communities. Since graduating, Christal is running her company from NY and quickly pivoted to curating virtual music experiences for her customers when COVID hit.
- Completed Wond’ry programming in spring of 2019 and hosted the first musical event for TuneHatch in Times Square in summer of 2019
- Competed in the semi-finals of the Southeastern Entrepreneurship Conference’s Student Pitch Competition
- Won the Owen Firestarter Pitch Competition Christal and her co-founder have brought on student interns and are growing their
- She is a first-generation Jamaican American and self-described “unconfined mind”, lyricist, and producer
Ready Dress Go
Vanderbilt undergraduates Jessica Kaplan and Zoe Antell founded Ready Dress Go in 2020. Ready Dress Go is an e-retail platform that helps young, aspiring, college women to feel confident in the workplace by reducing costs and increasing accessibility of professional attire.
- Invited to present at the Entrepreneur Organization’s Student Pitch Competition
- Received microgrant funding from the Wond’ry
- Planning to release a capsule collection and begin a college ambassador program
- Have been described as an “unstoppable duo”
- Early focus groups have yielded positive responses to the proposed collection and price point
Harrison Bartlett is a PhD student studying at the Vanderbilt Center for Intelligent Mechatronics whose passion is building assistive devices for individuals with physical impairments. His company, Synchro Motion, designs multi-functional prostheses that address the health and mobility challenges of the amputee population. The semi-powered ankle joint featured above fills a gap in the market between modulated passive devices and fully powered devices in terms of both functionality and size/weight.
- Awarded a Wond’ry microgrant
- The Wond’ry’s first team to be accepted into the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program and receive a $50,000 grant
- Since completing the I-Corps program, Harrison has received over $1.7M in additional grant funding from the National Science Foundation
- Was featured in a video from NSF – “Four Awesome Discoveries You Probably Didn’t Hear About”, episode 8
- Won 2nd place in the 36|86 Student Pitch Competition, taking home a $20,000 prize
- Holds 5 patents