Renewing the Entrepreneur Spirit

April 22 2019

April 22, 2019, by Purdue Foundry Media Squad

“We had forgotten how we felt the first time we used the tech and saw it actually work. So it was exciting to see others having that feeling when they used the tech,” says HaptImage Co-Founder Shruthi Suresh after their whirlwind trip last week to display their tech prototype at the AAU-APLU University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase on Capitol Hill.

Compared to interactions during past pitch competitions on campus, the Haptimage Team was surprised to not have many questions on the actual tech and more plain admiration for how it will help people with visual impairments. “It might have been that the local Purdue audience has a larger tech background so were curious about the research. At the showcase in D.C., they (audience) were fascinated with tech but more because they saw the amazing application possibilities after trying it out. (They) can feel the real world solution and the need,” says Co-Founder Ting Zhang. “It really recharged our work.”

“We got stopped at the security entrance which was funny because we are totally comfortable with the prototype, but of course, I’m sure it seemed odd to be carrying a big heavy box into a federal building,” Suresh commented. “We did make it through fine, but it made us laugh and the security person was also really interested in the tech. She asked questions and did let us go through. Again, it was so cool to be a part of something that people are excited to learn about.”

Attendees that took time to stop at the table to see the Haptimage prototype at the showcase included federal legislators, Andrei Iancu, head of the patent office and Jordan Wicker, Deputy Federal Representative for the state of Indiana. The team made contacts for future funding as well as gained valuable advice from other CEOs participants.

“A one-pager or executive summary to give people would have helped, so we will definitely have that ready for any future showcases. But what really got people excited was having the prototype. It really set us apart,” said Zhang. “After traveling with the prototype we are already trying to figure out how to make the tech less bulky and more portable.”

There is a blind community at Purdue that Haptimage has worked through testing with, so that has been good start base of clients. Their next goal is to target students that are blind. Haptimage is working to create a relationship with the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Austin. If a partnership can be negotiated, it reinforces the need to think of the tech in a more portable way like a mobile or pocket-style version.

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