Weekends spent studying business skills and mulling over biology and chemistry questions have cleared the way to Atlanta, Ga. for a group of Vancouver and Richmond teens.
"We are very excited to be going to Atlanta and hope to do Vancouver proud," said 17-year-old Ravi Chalhotra, who led his team to develop a spray-on cast system that would serve as an alternative to a splint.
The five teens flew, all expenses paid, to Atlanta Thursday morning to compete for $25,000 in prizes in a global business plan competition this weekend.
Chalhotra, a Grade 12 student from Notre Dame Catholic high school in Hastings-Sunrise, collaborated with his cousin Rajeev Bagga, and Aman Malhotra from St. George's private school for boys, and two girls who attend public schools in Richmond as part of TiE Young Entrepreneurs, or TYE. In its third year, TiE, which stands for Talent, Ideas and Enterprise, is new to Canada. Chalhotra and his peers will compete against teens from 16 cities in the United States, India, Australia and England.
They've had little time to prepare for the global competition since beating Metro Vancouver teams in front of five Vancouver-based venture capitalists and entrepreneurs April 1. "They gave a lot of tips so I think we're pretty ready," Chalhotra said.
One of the other groups developed an app for a smartphone that would allow restaurant patrons to complete a survey to receive discounts. Another group conceived headphones that would swivel to serve as high-quality speakers.
Chalhotra, the son of a plumber and a resident of Renfrew, dreams of becoming a doctor and opening his own clinic. He had finished a biology test early when he was struck with an idea for a spray-on bandage. His biology teacher told him they already were on the market, so he conceived a sprayon cast. His group also consulted professors at the University of B.C. "I've never actually talked to professors or business people [before] but as we went through this it became easier to talk to them," Chalhotra said.
Businessman Vik Khanna spearheaded TYE Vancouver. Rattan Bagga, TYE Vancouver program co-chair and team lead who works in the organic food sphere, and co-chair Amit Sandhu, a real estate developer from Richmond, mentored students. Sandhu connected Chalhotra's team with the CEO of a medical research company who told them how to introduce a medical product to the market.
The spray-on cast consists of a bandage that's coated with a freezing solution to cool the injured area and reduce swelling. The outside would be coated with chemicals that react to a spray to form a strong adhesive that would function as a cast.
They haven't tested their product but Chalhotra says their consultants believe it's feasible. "All the chemicals, they're not easily accessible to high school people," Chalhotra said. His team would use its winnings to copyright their idea, start the patenting application and seek investors. Research, development and approvals for new medical products cost millions of dollars.
In an August interview, Sandhu said TYE Vancouver aims to break down the walls between corporate Canada and high school students and to encourage teens to lead and dream big. Students paid $50 to enrol.
Participants learned eight weeks of business curriculum at the offices of international accounting firm KPMG and international business law and litigation firm Fasken Martineau in the fall, with each session followed by a speaker. They started their business plans in January.
For more information about the annual program, see Vancouver.tie.org.
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