Lowell Milken Institute-Sandler Prize for New Entrepreneurs: Final Round 2022

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Lowell Milken Institute-Sandler

Prize for New Entrepreneurs

Final Round 2022

Watch the Final Round here!

2022 Lowell Milken Institute-Sandler Prize for New Entrepreneurs Program

2022 Winners of the Final Round!

A poster of Lowell Milken Institute Sandler Prize for New Entrepreneurs Final Round







Team Kommu

Bo Abrams, UCLA Anderson 2022
Darren Douglas, UCLA Anderson 2022
Branden Nikka, UCLA Law 2023
Katie Schiff, UCLA Anderson 2022
Gus Woythaler, UCLA Anderson 2022
Devin Yaeger, UCLA Law 2023

Kommu is Icelandic for “arrival” and connotes what we are building: a community. For travelers, digital nomads, and citizens of the world, Kommu is a cost-effective private home sharing network that connects users with their direct network of travelers to (1) help users find connections as they travel and (2) assist members in finding a home away from home on those trips via exchange. Kommu is a web and mobile travel platform that enables users to seamlessly connect with fellow travelers and propose home exchanges with the people they trust most – their personal network – while also allowing members to discover other “Kommunity” members who are a degree or two removed from direct connections. A user’s home is only viewable to the connections that she establishes on the Kommu platform unless she wants to become a member and share her home with the broader Kommunity.

Trust is built on relationships; those who we meet, know, and connect with are those whom we trust. In exchange for an annual membership fee, users can upgrade to become verified Kommunity members, connecting with a larger trusted network of fellow travelers – second and third degree connections – who seek to stay in their empty homes while away and suggest local experiences. Kommunity members consent to identification and address verification services and have access to key features and benefits that the Kommu platform provides to ensure safe and secure home exchanges at scale. Beyond the subscription fee, Kommu will derive revenue from selling damage and travel insurance policies for exchanges.




Team Lost Abroad

Jackson Browning, UCLA Anderson 2022
Siyi Chen, UCLA Anderson 2022
Jack Du, UCLA Anderson 2022
Brent Oberlin, UCLA Anderson 2022
Zi Ye, UCLA Law 2022
Beineng Zhang, UCLA Law 2023

Lost Abroad is a language learning game that offers U.S. language learners conversational fluency through modern pedagogy, practical immersive content, intrinsic motivation and fun: a combination rarely offered in the language learning space. Our 1-module prototype is currently in the playtesting and product interaction phase, and a social media marketing campaign has started to raise awareness and create a following. With the prototype and business plan, a crowd equity funding campaign and pre-seed round is planned for May 2022 to raise $300k to fuel the development and completion of our first game, titled “An Afternoon in Shanghai” which will teach players how to get around in many of the most common situations in China. We also plan for a $1M Q2’23 fundraiser, and a $4MM campaign at the launch of our game in 2024. We plan to provide the game as a one-time purchase for each language, with additional content and advanced topics purchasable for smaller fees.




Team Orafay

Raul Hernandez, UCLA Anderson 2022
Naomi King, UCLA Law 2023
Iryna Lopushenko, UCLA Law 2022
Crystal Xiao, UCLA Engineering 2022
Cher Zheng, UCLA Engineering 2022

Orafay is a pre-clinical stage company developing a uniquely scalable, bio dissolvable, and easy-to-apply microarray patch that allows for a local delivery and prolonged release of an off-patent antibiotic that can not only eradicate bacteria but also aid in tissue regeneration.

Periodontitis, gum disease, is a severe infection of the gum tissue that leads permeant bad breath, gum and tooth sensitivity, and eventually tooth loss. It is also associated an increased risk for cognitive dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Periodontitis affects up to half of adults worldwide and is treated with scaling and root planning (SRP), a painful and costly procedure. After SRP, trained professionals place local antibiotics on site further, thus increasing the cost of treatment. The current antibiotics faces physical challenges such as retention, placement, and leakage. These limitations can lead to an incomplete dosage of antibiotics, therefore increasing the associated risk of using antibiotics. 

Orafay’s first product, Sal-patch, uses a patented microarray drug delivery system that is painless, easy to place, localized and provides sustained drug release. Small animal experiments have demonstrated that usage of Sal-patch results pocket closure and bone regeneration. Furthermore, Sal-patch does not require the existence of dental pockets so treatment can be administered before pocket formation thus allowing for earlier intervention. Sal-Patch will be manufactured at scale and sold through dental supply companies to leverage existing distribution channels. The Sal-patch is a differentiated product and strong value proposition in a U.S. annual SAM $1B and SOM $79M.

Orafay founding team is composed of UCLA bioengineers that are experts in the fields of biomaterials and drug delivery. Orafay advisors and contributors include faculty from UCLA School of Law, Samueli School of Engineering, and Anderson School of Management. Orafay is presently seeking clinical advisors and pre-seed funding to support pre-clinical trials and prototyping.




Team SportSwap

Daniel Del Giorno, UCLA Law/Anderson 2022
Melis Kilic, UCLA Law/Anderson 2022
Keaton Lipson, UCLA Anderson 2022
Justin Moorad, UCLA Anderson 2023

A couple years ago, our founder Keaton and a group of friends began to bet with one another in a groupchat. They were tired of playing against the sportsbooks who take high commissions (in the form of vigorish via bad odds), positioning them for long-term failure due to the house’s baked-in advantage that rigged the game against them. As Keaton and his friends began to invite more and more individuals into the chat, they realized they needed to expand to a more efficient system. They moved to a Discord execution and the invite-only chat quickly grew to over 1,000 people, at which point they capped the chat in order to maintain quality of userbase. But the opportunity was apparent: tons of bettors are feeling the pain and are looking for an alternative to the predatory house model. In conducting more formal interviews and surveys, the SportSwap team has further confirmed the problem and has gained full conviction in the opportunity. Taking inspiration from Robinhood’s upending of the equity markets, SportSwap will introduce a user-friendly model with market-leading odds and a simple user experience. In doing so, SportSwap will appeal both to experienced bettors seeking the best odds, and position itself as the go-to sports betting destination for casual sports fans and first-time bettors. Simply put, SportSwap makes sports betting easier to understand and fairer by offering the best odds on the market without the high 10-20% commissions the traditional sports betting companies currently charge. SportSwap’s features and application design were created through multiple focus groups and surveys with over 100 unique participants.




Team Vesty

Evan Aluyen, UCLA Engineering 2022
Taylor Arterburn, UCLA Law 2022
Gabrielle Forte, UCLA Anderson 2023
Marc Policastro, UCLA 2022

Influencer marketing is a $16.4 billion industry, with over 30,000,000 “influencers” in the world. About 80% of these influencers are so-called “micro” influencers with between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. These micro influencers are seeking to further develop and monetize their brands, but doing so is incredibly challenging. Additionally, followers are the backbone of every influencer’s success. Yet, nothing exists today that allows followers to invest in – and mutually benefit from – the success of their favorite influencers.

Vesty (the “Company”) is an incubator that facilitates the growth and development of influencers’ brands. Our Company will provide a select group of influencers (the “Partnered Influencers” or “Influencers”) with capital, resources, and industry connections, accelerating their path to success. Vesty will also provide an investment portal where anyone (“Users”) can invest in Partnered Influencers. Once Users purchase equity in an Influencer’s brand, they will receive a non-fungible token (“NFT”) conveying ownership of the share certificate. When Equity NFTs are traded on NFT marketplaces, the Company and Influencer will receive a percentage of the transaction value.

Vesty will grow quickly. In the first year, we aim to manage eight influencers in our Incubator. By the third year, we will manage 45 influencers, and by the fifth, 250. Vesty’s Influencers will scale to the size of a major talent agency’s client roster, providing a diversified portfolio to attract Vesty Investors. Further, Vesty’s marketing team will keep costs low by capitalizing on its Influencer clients to spread the word at low CPMs.

Vesty’s financial projections are strong. The Company plans to raise Pre-Seed, Seed, Series A and Series B funding. Vesty will be cash-flow positive by Year 5, with EBITDA of $1,530,259. As expected, there are legal and regulatory risks, but the costs associated with these risks are built into our financial projections.




Team Vite.st

Juan Banchs, UCLA  2022
Michael Lo, UCLA 2025
Ashvin Nagarajan, UCLA 2022
Diana Yen, UCLA Law 2022
Brandon Zelner, UCLA Law/Anderson 2024

Vite.st is a breath-based, reusable COVID-19 diagnostic sensor device that fits in the palm of your hand. Vite.st’s device provides point-of-care, accurate, and low-cost test results within 5 minutes. The user simply attaches a disposable test pod to the reusable handle, blows through the handle, and receives a conclusive test result via an easy-to-interpret LED panel. The disposable test pod permits on-the-go testing and can be recycled.

Vite.st’s novel diagnostic mechanism is based on the proprietary research developed by our biology partners based in Italy. Our research demonstrates sensitivity and specificity that matches that of the PCR gold standard test. Further, due to the biological mechanism of the Vite.st device, lab tests have proven the Vite.st device successful in detecting all known variants of COVID-19, even with diluted viral loads associated with early-stages of infection.

Vite.st is currently targeting businesses in the hospitality industry, which is facing a labor shortage and an urgency to return to full and ordinary in-person work. Through rapid and accurate COVID-19 detection, Vite.st will dramatically lower the risk of virus spread across hospitality workforces. Lower risk of virus spread reduces time, financial, opportunity, and other costs associated with employee absences, finding an appropriate test, and waiting for those test results.

For order volumes greater than 100,000, Vite.st projects to have a profit margin of 40% based on a sale price of $20 per reusable handle and $5 per disposable test pod. These prices are significantly lower than that of other tests with similar accuracy. Vite.st’s market research indicates that employers are likely to provide regular testing for their employees at this price point.

Beyond COVID-19, Vite.st has strong potential to launch additional product lines related to other virus and cancer detection with minor modifications to the disposable pods.



 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:


Jenny Leung (UCLA M.B.A. 2018)

Program Director, Techstars Los Angeles;
Entrepreneur and Winner of 2018 LMI-Sandler Prize

Moujan Kazerani (UCLA J.D. 2000)

Founding Partner and General Counsel, Bryant Stibel

Richard Sandler (UCLA J.D. 1973)

Executive Vice President, Milken Family Foundation; Partner, Maron & Sandler



First Round Judges:


Deanna Evans

Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Programs at UCLA;
Executive Director, StartUp UCLA

Elaine Hagan (UCLA M.B.A. 1991)

Executive Director, Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UCLA Anderson School of Management

Thomas Lipkin, Ph.D.

Director, UCLA Innovation Fund & New Ventures at UCLA Technology Development Group

Andrew Verstein

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



Team Mentors:

Douglas Adler

Keenan Behrle, UCLA J.D. ’70

Eugene Chong, UCLA J.D. ’07

Shauna France, UCLA J.D. ’09

Mark Kapczynski, UCLA B.A. ’93

Mac Kennedy, UCLA J.D.’18

Nick Lum, UCLA J.D. ’07

Stan Maron, UCLA J.D. ’72

Todd Maron

Brian Ross, UCLA B.A. ’93 & J.D.’97

Neal Vitale

Larry Weiss