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Wilkes Honors College Students Earn Funding for Start-up

Nicholas Moy and Rachel Kavalakatt successfully competed at e-Fest, winning funds for their start-up company, Glaucova.

Two Florida Atlantic Wilkes Honors College students successfully competed at e-Fest.

A pair of Florida Atlantic Wilkes Honors College students and Kenan Scholars successfully competed at e-Fest, an annual undergraduate entrepreneurship competition recently held at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. The two developed a machine-learning backed, glaucoma prescreening platform to provide affordable, accessible, and instantaneous glaucoma screening. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world.

Nicholas Moy and Rachel Kavalakatt’s start-up company, Glaucova, was initially honored as part of the Kenan Social Engagement Scholarship Program, earning a $2,500 start-up package. The duo then set their sights on e-Fest, submitting an online video pitch and PowerPoint deck. They were selected as one of 25 finalist teams.

That win allowed the two to move on to compete at e-Fest in person. The competition is made up of three events, each of which they placed highly in: first in the Innovation Challenge (teams are given a challenge and three hours to create an innovative business-based solution); third place in the Pitch Slam! (teams create a 90-second, elevator-style pitch); and fifth in the Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge (a 15-minute business pitch presentation to a panel of judges).

Moy and Kavalakatt secured roughly $16,000 in additional funding at the e-Fest and have plans to enter more competitions in the future.

“I’d like to thank the Kenan Program for providing students like us with the opportunity to gain the funding needed to get our ventures off the ground,” said Moy. “I’d also like to thank our mentors, Dr. Timothy Steigenga and Dr. Christopher Strain, for their critical input that has helped us refine our pitches and effectively communicate our ideas.”

Moy is a biology major with background as an ophthalmic technician, and Kavalakatt, a behavioral neuroscience major, developed med tech in a previous venture.

“I’d like to thank our advisor, Dr. ‘Patch’ [Bill Paczkowski], for his critical insight that has guided us in our future directions and been instrumental in opening doors and helping us make strategic connections,” said Kavalakatt. “I’d also like to thank Dr. Kevin Cox for supporting my personal entrepreneurship journey since the beginning.”

For more information on the Kenan program, visit here. To learn more about e-Fest, visit here.