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FIU & FAU student duo wins $10K to develop wearable tech

on October 10, 2023 / by Nikki Cabus ,

Read Time 4 Minutes

South Florida students Laura Garcia (FIU) and friend Juan Fortich (FAU) win $10k to develop their wearable technology. 

The new company using sensor technology to help athletes perform better won the first prize in the 15th annual FAU Business Pitch Competition. The company develops small wearable pods that allow athletes to be healthier and maximize performance by improving their form in real time.

Laura is a health and fitness buff and was left frustrated as she trained for her first half-marathon in Yosemite.

Laura Garcia

“On top of spending months working on my physical endurance, I had to ensure my form was correct and my technique was on point to avoid any injuries,” says the computer engineering student, who is also a member of the FIU Honors College and Startup FIU. “It was during this grueling experience that I realized there had to be a better and more effective way to train,” Laura continued.

It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention, and Garcia’s months of physical training gave birth to the idea for DashOne.

Wanting to translate the challenges she faced during her marathon training into a creative solution, Garcia and Fortich doubled-down on their idea for wearable tech and began conducting market research to learn more about her target audience’s needs.

Garcia credits her time spent at StartUP FIU, the university’s dedicated innovation hub, with instilling a foundational knowledge of what entrepreneurship is all about. That consequently inspired her as she mulled her senior class project, a requirement for all College of Engineering seniors.

Garcia is quoted on the Startup FIU site stating, “What I like best about StartUP FIU is that it allows me to be surrounded by an amazing community of ambitious, talented and brilliant people that are passionate about being changemakers in the world regardless of industry or major. StartUP FIU has also taught me the value of seeking and discovering new insights when approaching complex problems.”

Emily Gresham

“Determined, creative and tech-savvy, Lara is emblematic of the future-ready student StartUP FIU produces,” says Emily Gresham, Assistant Vice President of Research, Innovation and Economic Development and a Co-Founder of StartUP FIU. “Our experiential programming, dynamic learning communities and dedicated mentorship prepares students for success after graduation, and arms them with the self-confidence, skills and knowledge to help them excel.”

Laura partnered with her friend and Florida Atlantic University  student, Juan Fortich, to build DashOne. The pair’s prototype device has two components: a wearable sensor that can attach to different parts of the body, such as the torso, knees or ankles, and a mobile app that tracks and analyzes a workout in real time.

“Our goal is to reach competitive runners looking for real-time feedback on their stride, technique and form,” said Laura. “Most injuries happen due to poor form and running posture,” she explains. “While other devices focus on output and biometrics, such as a person’s stride or pressure when hitting the pavement, DashOne homes in on a runner’s form, which is critical to achieving peak performance.”

Garcia and Fortich started to develop the prototype in January 2023. Fortich was able to get the duo entered into Florida Atlantic University’s Business Pitch Competition where they won first place – and a $10,000 prize.

The annual FAU Business Pitch (formerly Plan) Competition is hosted by the College of Business, Adams Center for Entrepreneurship with support from local partners and sponsors. The competition encourages FAU students, faculty, staff and recent graduates to pitch their game-changing idea for a chance to fund their new ventures.

Dr. Kevin Cox

Along with prize money, teams compete for legal and business services, preferred access into the FAU Tech Runway Venture Program and the opportunity to present their business pitch to local angel, venture capital groups and more. Competitors have the opportunity to meet and network with successful entrepreneurs. Resources are provided to aid students in the creation and implementation of their businesses. Students will gain valuable skills and experiences to be successful.

“This year, the competition was the largest and best we’ve hosted,” said Kevin Cox, Ph.D., associate director of the Adams Center. “We expanded the finalists, given the large number of high-quality applications. The judges agreed that the competitors and pitches were excellent, making it especially difficult to select the winners.”

Named in recognition of Florida Atlantic University graduate and serial entrepreneur Scott H. Adams, the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship brings students, faculty and the community together to fuel the innovation needed to create new venture opportunities in the ever-changing global marketplace.  The mission of the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship at the DeSantis Pavilion is to create and educate entrepreneurial leaders who find sustainable solutions to economic and social problems. The goal of the Adams Center is to prepare FAU students in business, science, engineering, and all disciplines who are looking to become entrepreneurs through business ownership or through venturing.

Additionally, they have raised $5,000 by participating in the Blackstone Launchpad Fellowship, hosted by FIU’s Pino Entrepreneurship Center. The dynamic duo also competed in the semifinals of Draper Competition for Collegiate Women Entrepreneurs, one of the largest collegiate entrepreneurship competitions in the nation.

Garcia and Fortich plan to continue perfecting the prototype so DashOne can start raise enough capital to bring the unique device to market.

“DashOne has allowed me to step into rooms that I never expected to be in, connect with and inspire other students to pursue their own passions through entrepreneurship, and make the most out of FIU’s diverse resources and network before graduation,” Garcia says. “For that, I’m incredibly grateful.”

Click here to learn more about the other pitch competition winners and their companies. 

FIU & FAU student duo wins $10K to develop wearable tech