UT students to compete at SXSW’s Entrepreneurial Eight

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Three UT seniors have made it to the final round of Entrepreneurial Eight, where they will compete against seven other student teams for $5000 each in Google Cloud Platform credits. 

The Entrepreneurial Eight contest, part of South By Southwest’s Student Startup Madness, pits eight student startups against each other based on their business pitches. Google credits can be used to purchase any Google product available, such as a web application. 

Psychology senior Justin Crites and computer science seniors Tony Llongueras and Macario Lara will be competing with their company, CrowdRx. Their student startup uses algorithms to sort through medical data to determine if stroke patients are suitable for treatment with tissue plasminogen activator, a drug used to dissolve blood clots. 

“The nitty-gritty of CrowdRx is we use patient data and we run algorithms through it, and we produce probability scores for how the patient’s going to come out after using the medication,” Lara said.

The original concept for the company was an iPad or iPhone application for doctors, which has since evolved. Currently, the algorithm has not been developed into a salable product.

“The trick is delivering the information to the doctors in the least obtrusive way possible,” Llongueras said. “If they prefer a mobile application, that’s what we will cater.”

The seniors hope to eventually develop the company to apply their concept to other medications.

“Scenarios similar to stroke patients [would work with the current algorithms]. Anything different, the logic would have to change,” Lara said. “The big issue is that we need large quantities of data. Right now we only have 200 to 500 records.”

Crites, Llongueras and Lara formed the concept last summer, but further developed it in their Longhorn Startup class, in which students create their own business startups and have mentors from successful startups who offer advice and guidance. The trio met their mentor, Andrew Eye, during a mentor speed-dating session. 

“It usually takes people 15 years to figure out that they want to start a company, and these guys have started their careers this way,” Eye said. 

The seniors agreed that ideally, they would build up the company and diversify the services in order to sell it. 

“It’s learning what to look for in stroke patients,” Crites said. “We base everything on evidence based on outcomes, and that is how we make the machine learn what to predict.”

Not only will the seniors be competing to be one of the top three teams in the Entrepreneurial Eight competition, but will also have access to SXSW after winning festival passes in the SXSW Interactive Hackathon. 

“It’s just going to be a good chance,” Crites said. “We’re going to be taking advantage of opportunities to network and get people excited about what we’re doing.”