ASU Research Associate Wins Funding for Pollinator Saving Magazine

December 8, 2020

Demo Day rewards thousands of cash investments to entrepreneurs in the ASU community

An Arizona State University research associate won a $ 10,000 investment in the new magazine she founded to inspire people to save the world’s pollinators.

ASU’s Global Biosocial Complexity Initiative research associate Kirsten Traynor won Ashton Family Venture Challenge silver in the Demo Day pitch competition on December 4.

Traynor, who received his PhD and MA from ASU, launched the quarterly print magazine 2 Million Blossoms in January and already has 1,700 subscribers.

Many subscribers are beekeepers or other professionals, but in her presentation video, Traynor said she hopes to reach the average person as well.

“Why pollinators? Our insect biodiversity is disappearing, our grasslands are shrinking and our pollinators are silent as they are disappearing, ”she said, noting that more than 70% of the world’s insects have been lost over the years. of the last three decades.

“Protecting pollinators has become a booming business. People want to help, but they don’t know how.

The magazine includes beautiful photographs and articles that highlight the small steps that everyone can take.

Traynor will use the money to revamp the website, build a subscriber management database and market the magazine.

John Ashton said the judges chose Traynor because of his strong business plan.

“What’s most invigorating for me is that they have a really strong, passionate leader with a solid background, and it shows,” he said.

Traynor was one of more than 40 Venture Devils contestants who made five-minute introductory videos. The Demo Day awards ceremony was broadcast live, with 31 teams winning a total of $ 143,500 in funding.

Ji Mi Choi, founding executive director of the institute and associate vice president of ASU Knowledge Enterprise, describes how entrepreneurs are supported during the Demo Day live broadcast on December 4. Screenshot by Charlie Leight / ASU Now

Venture Devils is a program to support ASU students, staff, faculty and community entrepreneurs within the new J. Orin Edson Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at ASU. Over the past five years, the entrepreneurship initiative has grown to include 44 team members and more than 40 corporate mentors and has raised around $ 40 million in external funding, according to Ji Mi Choi, director. founding executive of the institute and associate vice-president of ASU. Knowledge Enterprise, which has been leading entrepreneurship and innovation since 2015.

“One thing I can guarantee is that everyone here has been on this trip with you,” Choi said at the awards ceremony.

“We are your friends and family because we are here to invest in your ideas. “

A new program this year was Venture Devils Plus, in which previous winners got additional support to move their business forward.

Tracy Lea, associate director of venture capital development at the institute, announced the winners of the Demo Day. Screenshot by Charlie Leight / ASU Now

“It was’ OK, we awarded them $ 10,000 and how are they doing?” Said Tracy Lea, associate director of business development for the institute.

“We identified a gap that showed they built the thing, that the thing works, but how are they in the market with this idea? “

The institute has also added support for teams trying to start a nonprofit and considering adding venture capital funding tracks dedicated to medical technology and the arts.

In addition to the $ 10,000 awarded to Traynor by the Ashton Family Venture Challenge, the winners of the Fall 2020 Demo Day were:

The eSeed social impact challenge awarded $ 12,500 to five winners: Godsway’s Gari Factory, founded by Godsway Dorlah to reduce postharvest food losses in Ghana, $ 5,000; Progressive Path, James Cook, $ 4,000; LEMNA, founded by Travis Andren, a company that works on bioremediation of agricultural wastewater, $ 1,500; and $ 1,000 each to Wheelchair Solutions, started by Mikayla Gerdes, and Water Works, Marina Filipek.

The J. Orin Edson Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund awarded $ 2,500 each to four businesses: Café Emporos, Ruben Trujillo; Seeding Mercy, an anti-hunger initiative launched by Aken Tong; Strax Gear, a gear organization system invented by Sean Dicke; and ReSuture, which creates realistic simulations of surgeries and was founded by Hannah Eherenfeldt, who also received a developmental services in-kind donation worth $ 5,000 from Spanner.

The Global Sport Venture Challenge $ 16,000 awarded to eight companies: Fanalyze, a fantasy sports search engine, Juan Juan, $ 5,000; Temp Defender, a wearable tech company, Abigail Davis, $ 3,000; Navajo Mountain Bike Initiative, which hopes to create a business opportunity for the Navajo Nation and recreation for the community, Peter Bugala, $ 3,000; and $ 1,000 each to Freebowler, Pratheek Palanethra; GMDY, Danny Harris; Wild Portals, Michael Anthony Wild; Wager Champs, Rayan Vatti and REV Canvas, Rebecca Varney.

The technical challenge of Hool Coury’s law graduates distributed $ 20,000 to three companies: Illusions Software, co-founded by James Spisak, which strives to bring automation solutions to skilled workers in the computer industry, $ 10,000; Eyesbox AI, founded by Kar Ken Chang, technology that turns a refrigerator into a smart refrigerator, $ 7,000; and Galleri, a subscription-based digital contemporary art gallery founded by Elizabeth Deitchman, $ 3,000.

The eSeed accelerator awarded $ 25,000 to five companies: Urban Construct, a real estate search engine founded by Derek Uche Anaeme, and StreamWork, a streaming site for students to do college work together, founded by Jared Hsu, both won 7 $ 000. Other winners are OpGuard, a safe way to distribute opioid drugs, Bradley Willett, $ 4,000; PlantBaked, a vegan cookie dough, Victor Novelo, $ 4,000; and GoSurf, Aleksei Stojanovic, $ 3,000.

Edson’s Student Entrepreneur Initiative awarded $ 10,000 each to five companies: Optical Waters, founded by Mariana Lanzarini-Lopes, a company that uses germicidal optical fibers to enable ultraviolet disinfection to prevent biofilm infection; StormStick Decon, founded by Jason Miller, a system to reduce cancer risk by quickly removing toxins from firefighters’ protective gear so they cannot be absorbed through the skin or inhaled into the lungs; Stonne Products, Jaron Lodge, a company to reinvent the jump stone business; Dext Technologies USA, founded by David Nkansah, an initiative to provide experiential science kits to children; and Peer Squared, by Michael Wang, a systematically integrated peer tutoring program for K-12 students.

Andren, Spisak and Deitchman are all part of the new Master of Science in Innovation and Venture Development program, a new degree that is a partnership between the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and WP Carey. School of Enterprise.

Pitch videos from the winning companies can be viewed on YouTube.

Top photo courtesyPixabay

Mary beth faller

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