Curos Labs Inc., a start-up founded by business and applied science students in UBC Sauder’s popular New Venture Design course, has received a $10,000 prize for presenting the “most outstanding intangible product” at Virginia Tech’s KnowledgeWorks Global Student Entrepreneurship Challenge.
The team’s product, known as CheckPoint, enables people with chronic pain – loosely defined as pain that lasts longer than three months – to quickly and easily track, analyze and understand their pain episodes in real time. Through a wearable band and online app, users can log pain episodes with the click of a button, and measure severity with the twist of a dial. The app also monitors data like weather, temperature and activity level, which can help care providers find other environmental influences.
By offering more unbiased insight into a person’s experience of pain, CheckPoint may lead to improved treatment, reduced recovery time and a better quality of life for those suffering from chronic pain – a condition that affects approximately one in five Canadians and an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide.
“We’re really excited about the prize,” says Alexander Toews (BASc ’17), a Curos Labs co-founder who, together with Tristan Burgoyne (BCom ’17), represented the company in Virginia. “It’s a great honour to be recognized at this level of competition, and the prize money will be huge in enabling our business to take the next step.”
Adds UBC Sauder marketing instructor Paul Cubbon: “For any early stage technology start-up, the journey can be a roller coaster. What has impressed me about this team is their willingness to deal with disappointing findings and re-work and re-test their plans, from both technical and user perspectives. Tristan and the team had the discipline and persistence to make sustained progress and transform CheckPoint from an idea to a product that can be commercialized.”
The Entrepreneurship Challenge is the main event at the annual VT KnowledgeWorks Global Partnership Event, which is now in its eighth year. Aimed at supporting and celebrating student entrepreneurship, the challenge judged teams on a number of criteria, including their ability to convey the existence of a viable market for their product or service and their competitive advantage in that market.
“Overall, the competition was an incredible experience,” says Burgoyne. “It's a lot of learning and also really fun.”
Curos Labs got its start in New Venture Design, an interdisciplinary course that pairs UBC Sauder and Applied Science students to develop start-ups. Earlier this year, the company placed first at the second annual Life Sciences Start-up Competition and was awarded a $5,000 cash prize. Curos Labs currently continues to test CheckPoint with early adopters.