Lowell Milken Institute-Sandler Prize for New Entrepreneurs: Final Round 2020

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A log of Lowell Milken Institute Sander Prize for New Entrepreneurs

Lowell Milken Institute-Sandler

Prize for New Entrepreneurs

Final Round 2020

Thank you to our Final Round sponsor Fenwick & West LLP!

Congratulations to this year’s winners!

First Place – Sahara

Second Place – Wise Earthcare

Third Place – OYA Apparel

Audience Favorite – OYA Apparel

The $100,000 Lowell Milken Institute-Sandler Prize for New Entrepreneurs is a team business plan competition designed to recognize student innovation and support the real-world launch of promising new business ventures. Offering the largest entrepreneurship competition award of any law school with a total of $100,000 in prizes, the Lowell Milken Institute-Sandler Prize for New Entrepreneurs is open exclusively to UCLA students.

This year, eighteen teams submitted business plans. Six judges read the plans and narrowed the field to seven finalist teams to compete in the final round. Normally, the final round event is a large public event held on the UCLA campus for the entire UCLA and the broader entrepreneurship community. This year, we had to change course owing to the restrictions on public gatherings and the requirements of physical distancing. We asked each finalist team to submit a narrated PowerPoint of no more than 7 minutes in length pitching their venture and to write a short statement explaining how the coronavirus will affect their venture.

The Final Round judges will meet by video call on April 20 to decide the winners. The competition rules provide that in selecting the winners, “the [Final Round] judges will consider the entire business concept, looking at overall feasibility, viability, attractiveness to investors and possibilities for growth, as well as the Team’s performance in the oral presentation and its response to the judges’ questioning. The judges shall award the Prizes… drawing on their experience and exercising their independent judgment.”

The winners will be announced on this site on April 21.

  • First Place – $60,000
  • Second Place – $25,000
  • Third Place – $15,000

Learn about last year’s winners.

We also give an Audience Favorite Award of $1,000 to the team that gets the most votes through this website. You can only vote once.

**Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. on Monday April 20**


Team Brand Socialite

Matt Cole, UCLA Anderson 2020
Benjamin Hart, UCLA Law 2021
Stephen A. Johnson, UCLA Anderson 2021
Ania Puczylowska, UCLA Anderson 2020

Brand Socialite is an on-demand staffing platform for event managers, hotels, catering companies and experiential marketing agencies, that uses matchmaking technology to fill shifts in real-time with promotional models, bartenders, servers and photographers. Brand Socialite connects businesses with high-quality, reliable, pre-screened and professional talent who enjoy a flexible schedule while earning extra income.

Corporate-level event staffing is ripe with inefficiencies. While there are many talent agencies, none offer a truly real-time account of talent availability or the assurance of a qualified and competent talent pool. Our extensive experience in this market positions Brand Socialite to capture recurring business from some of the most notable brands in the world.

Brand Socialite accomplishes this through our proprietary mobile and web platform bringing an unprecedented level of transparency to event staffing. On the talent-facing side of the platform, individuals can create a profile that highlights their skills, experience, and certifications along with up-to-date photographs. On the business-facing side of the platform, event managers can create alerts with specific criteria for their upcoming event, essentially creating a virtual casting call, or may elect to actively search member profiles, filtered by their chosen parameters, and
discreetly invite the talent who matches their needs.

Shelter in Place Statement

Team OYA Apparel

Patrick Ayers, UCLA Anderson 2021
Mitchella Gilbert, UCLA Anderson 2021
Mac Seder, UCLA Anderson 2021
Ashley Sykora, UCLA Law 2021
Raylan Vaz, UCLA Anderson 2021

OYA Apparel is the first company to design health-inspired, direct-to-consumer leggings for a woman’s fit and lifestyle needs. Our pro-woman brand will normalize conversations around women’s health while increasing a woman’s confidence about her needs. Conversely, incumbents don’t invest in women’s health-related innovation, so they design “comfortable” leggings for noninclusive body-types with fabrics that are breeding grounds for feminine health issues.

OYA innovates for women by solving the frustrations of finding functional sportswear and breathable fabrics that don’t exacerbate health problems. Our initial customers are recent moms (~3M women/year), because they need intensive feminine & postpartum care that conventional leggings cannot provide. We’ll launch limited collections and use customer feedback to drive product market fit. Then we’ll expand to support all women, including plus-size women and casual athletes.

The niche $4.2B US-women’s legging market represents a great opportunity because it’s growing fast, women are spending more on their health, and their willingness-to-pay for athleisure is increasing. Our team can grow demand given our 24-years of combined experienced across fashion, innovation, and sales. Our US-based supply chain will ensure quality and quickly integrate customer feedback. By 2023, we expect to earn $1.3M in revenue while empowering women from the inside out.

Shelter in Place Statement

Team Protean Surgical Instruments

Luke Allera, UCLA Anderson 2020
Melis Kilic, UCLA Law 2021

Protean Surgical Instruments is developing a proprietary catheter platform technology for minimally invasive procedures. Our mission is to bring innovative medical devices to market that will improve patient outcomes and reduce overall healthcare costs. The company’s initial product is a neurovascular catheter that integrates soft-robotics to improve navigation through complex vascular anatomy to deliver life-saving treatments for diseases such as strokes, aneurysms, and brain tumors.

As the U.S. population continues to age, the incidence of neurovascular disease will rise accordingly. It is projected that there will be 200,000 neurovascular procedures in the U.S. this year, making neurovascular catheters one of the fastest growing medical device segments with an estimated $352 million market size and a 9.8% annual growth rate over the next four years.

The company was founded by four UCLA Biodesign Fellows with backgrounds in medicine, biomedical engineering, and business. Through strategic academic and industry partnerships, we have assembled an outstanding advisory board made up of experts and key-opinion leaders from neurovascular surgery, mechanical engineering, and catheter manufacturing. The company has already filed a provisional patent for its catheter navigation technology and intends for its first product to reach the commercial market by 2024.

Shelter in Place Statement

Team Sahara

Andy Chang, UCLA Anderson 2021
Josh Kimmel, UCLA Anderson 2021
Annie Lu, UCLA Anderson 2021
Jama Mohamed, UCLA Anderson 2021
Elaine Park, UCLA Law 2021

Sahara is a SaaS platform that enables users to build physical products without downloading any software or purchasing any electronics, letting them prototype quickly and cheaply from anywhere. Our platform accomplishes this by allowing developers to connect to circuit boards, chips, and test equipment we host in the cloud. The end result is that users can code and test on remote electronics as if they were physically present.

Sahara’s mission is to create a world where physical products can be created entirely virtually, end to end. As the world moves from in-person to remote, we strive to create bridges that enable workflows for the teams of the future to interact with objects in the real world. We are starting by enabling developers to assemble circuits virtually, opening up a whole new paradigm for product design and software development.

Shelter in Place Statement

Team Sike Insights

Siddharth Pandiya, UCLA Engineering 2021
Arman Sagart, UCLA Law 2021
Benjamin Sangree, UCLA Anderson 2022
Corine Tan, UCLA 2020
Andrew Zhou, UCLA Engineering 2022

Sike Insights an enterprise SaaS company that’s using AI to help remote teams work better together.

We talked to 150+ remote managers at the top remote companies, and identified that the biggest problem they face is that they struggle to build relationships with their team in a remote setting. This leads to a loss in productivity, engagement and retention. Our goal is to help managers build strong working relationships and lead with empathy.

Our first product, Kona, is a Slackbot that helps remote teammates understand each other better. It analyzes the way remote teammates communicate in Slack public channels, and provides guidance on their communication and feedback style. We currently have 12 pilot customers, and landed our first paying customer this month. Some of our pilot customers include buffer.com (120 people), Chef Software (250 people), RainforestQA (150 people), and MailerLite (80 people).

We have been overwhelmed by pilot interest in the past few months, with over 30 companies signing up for the pilot program. Founded by UCLA students and Kleiner Perkins Fellows, we’ve been through the Anderson Venture Accelerator, StartupUCLA Summer Accelerator, and UCLaunch (Berkeley’s top early-stage accelerator). This month, we raised $25K from Arrow Capital

Shelter in Place Statement

Team VHomes

Brennan Ross, UCLA Anderson 2021
Michael Vilardo, UCLA Anderson 2021
Daniel Xo, UCLA Law 2020
Victor Zhou, UCLA CS 2022

VHomes is a Real Estate Saas company building the future of budget travel. VHomes provides landlords with long term liquidity by offering tenancy in exchange for converting the units into Short-Term Rentals to be listed on Airbnb, VRBO, and VHomes’ developing platform. VHomes leverages smart home technology and vibrant designs to improve upon the antiquated budget offerings of Motels and Sole Proprietor Vacation Rentals. VHomes uses proprietary machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence to empower scale and optimize operations.

VHomes’ live MVP consists of 4 properties in Tucson and Phoenix, AZ, generating $44K in revenue and serving 600+ guests in 2020 thus far. Our market research has proven that there is a need for consistent, technology driven budget options. Our operational success has shown that VHomes’ model is profitable and scalable. VHomes will create value for both our landlords, by providing liquidity, and our travelers, by providing the best budget rental option, in an effort to quickly become the premier budget accommodations provider in the Southwest.

Shelter in Place Statement

Team Wise Earthcare

Andrew Coyle, UCLA Anderson 2020
William Hawkins, UCLA Anderson 2020
Belinda Lau, UCLA Anderson 2020
Scott Panitz, UCLA Law 2021
Pradnya Parulekar, UCLA Anderson 2020
Ingrid Vining, UCLA Anderson 2020

Wise Earthcare is here to take care of your smile and the earth.

According to the World Economic Forum, by the year 2050, there will be more pieces of plastic in the ocean than fish. And, 1.2 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away in the US each year. The need for plastic alternative products has never been greater.

Wise is solving this enormous problem, starting with your toothbrush and all of the products you need to clean your teeth. Our mission is to reduce waste produced by healthcare products. Our complete line of oral healthcare products (and all of our packaging) are 100% compostable and sustainable, without sacrificing function or design. Our toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash and teeth whitening products are approved by the American Dental Association and will look beautiful on your bathroom counter. Through our bundled subscription service, your oral healthcare will be delivered directly to your door, exactly when you’re ready for a replacement. That’s something we can all feel good about.

Earth-friendly oral care. Delivered

Shelter in Place Statement

Thank you to those who made this competition possible!

UCLA School of Law and the Lowell Milken Institute offer their thanks to Lowell Milken, the Milken Family Foundation, Richard Sandler and the Richard Sandler Family Foundation for their vision and support.

Lowell Milken Institute thanks Dean Jennifer Mnookin for her leadership and support of the Business Law Program and this competition.

Final Round Judges:

Joshua D. Geffon, Partner, Fenwick & West LLP; UCLA J.D. ’04

Lowell Milken, Chairman and Co-founder, Milken Family Foundation; UCLA J.D. ’73

Richard Sandler, Executive Vice President, Milken Family Foundation; Partner, Maron & Sandler; UCLA J.D. ’73

Victoria Slivkoff, Global Head of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, UC Office of the President

First Round Judges:

George Abe, Lecturer and Faculty Director, Strategic Management Research, UCLA Anderson School of
Management; Lecturer in Law, UCLA School of Law; UCLA B.A. ’69 & M.S. ’ 71

Deanna Evans, Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Programs (UCLA), StartUp UCLA and Blackstone Launchpad (UCLA)

Schaffer Grimm, Business Strategist, Institute for Technology Advancement, UCLA Engineering; CFO, Craytex LLC; UCLA M.B.A. ’11

Elaine Hagan, Executive Director, Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UCLA Anderson School of Management; UCLA M.B.A. ’91

James Park, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law; Faculty Director, Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy

Thomas Lipkin, Director, UCLA Innovation Fund and New Ventures


Paula Barnett, UCLA B.S. ’95

Matt Beaudoin, UCLA J.D. ’15

Keenan Behrle, UCLA J.D. ’70

Eugene Chong, UCLA J.D. ’07

John Corrigan

Andrew Erskine, UCLA J.D. ’09

Elizabeth Federowicz, UCLA J.D. ’13

Shauna France, UCLA J.D. ’09

Jeff Goldberg, UCLA J.D. ’91

Erin Kapczynski

Mark Kapczynski, UCLA B.A. ’93

Mac Kennedy, UCLA J.D. ’18

Nick Lum, UCLA J.D. ’07

Todd Maron

Maureen Montgomery, UCLA J.D. ’13

Barzin Pakandam

Priya Patel

Brian Ross, UCLA B.A. ’93 & J.D. ’97

Larry Weiss

Anita Wolman, UCLA J.D. ’76

Thank you to Fenwick & West partners, Michael Brown (UCLA J.D. ’05) and Joshua Geffon, for their presentation to the teams on how to advise a new venture.