“Aside from being good engineers, creating a startup has required us to demonstrate we can compete against many other excellent ideas.” That ability, says Alejandro Canizeres M’19, is part of what helped him and his teammates win the “Best Consumer Product” award at Connecticut’s New Venture Competition held this spring in New Haven, Conn.
Alejandro, Dylan Hammerman M’19, and Hamid Dirami M’19, competed against more than 20 collegiate competitors, securing $500 of business funding. The graduate electrical engineering students “pitched” a product that efficiently transforms any gas-powered car into an electric vehicle.
“In the early 1900’s, the first cars were actually electric and used batteries that weren’t very powerful, so they couldn’t go very fast,” says Alejandro. “Today, the vehicles we convert use new battery technology.”
“We combine a stronger, yet lighter weight battery with an electric motor and controller, which regulates the speed between the battery and the motor,” explains Dylan, “so our cars can go up to 90 miles-per-hour.”
The company appealed to judges because it can turn almost any gas-powered vehicle into an electric car in just ten days, and at a significant cost savings for consumers. “Not only does it cost a fraction of what buying a new electric vehicle costs, it’s also better for the environment,” shares Hamid.
Participating in the Connecticut Entrepreneurship Foundation’s annual event allowed the team to dive deep into the business venture process and receive candid feedback from business financing experts. “The students delivered a strong 3-minute PowerPoint demonstration and worked as a team to answer questions and showcase their skills in both the fields of business and engineering,” says Hemchandra Shertukde, PhD, professor and proposal advisor for this competition.
“We won this competition because of the teamwork, and because we believe in the product, which we think has big potential,” says Hamid.