Business Solution for Diabetics Victorious at New Venture Challenge

PROVO, Utah – Jun 11, 2020 – In the United States, 10.5 percent of the population has diabetes and may pay up to $350 for a small vial of insulin that will only last a week. PhyR, a company founded by BYU students, is working to make insulin cheaper for diabetics by building a machine that creates insulin in patients' homes. PhyR submitted its business plan during the New Venture Challenge on 9 April, part of the Miller Competition Series hosted by BYU Marriott's Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, and walked away with the $15,000, the first-place award and an opportunity to grow the company with the center’s Founders Launchpad, an accelerator program for startup companies.

The New Venture Challenge recognizes student entrepreneurs who have created innovative products and business plans. Typically, during the challenge, teams present their products and compete for prizes in front of a large crowd on BYU campus. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year, teams competed virtually and pitched their products to a panel of judges using Zoom video conferencing software.

The victorious PhyR team consisted of ten students: Connor Behr, a molecular biology sophomore from Ogden, Utah; Anika Behr, a general studies sophomore from South Weber, Utah; Ben Johnson, a chemical engineering senior from Littleton, Colorado; Joshua Vanderpool, a mechanical engineering junior from Portland, Oregon; George Bennion, a post-baccalaureate studies marketing student from Stark City, Missouri; Ben Murphy, a strategic management senior from Rocklin, California; Wesley Stirk, an electrical engineering senior from Irrigon, Oregon; Emily Cannon, a marketing senior from Brigham City, Utah; Jackson Wagstaff, a strategic management senior from Succasunna, New Jersey; and Jacob Harris, a computer science senior from Cottonwood Heights, Utah.

Each student company was judged on the following factors: if its product successfully resolved a pain point, showed significant market potential, and had competitive advantage. Teams needed their plans to be clear and achievable in addition to being well-presented at the competition. The PhyR team excelled in several of these areas, leading it to win over their competitors.

The team’s success in the competition has motivated the students to keep improving their business. “The competition was a great learning experience and gave us more confidence in what we are doing,” says Murphy. “To have people show support and belief in what you are doing, especially when you are working hard on a new business idea, is a great feeling.”

Moving forward, PhyR hopes to provide cheaper and more accessible insulin. “We want to disrupt the insulin industry and improve the quality of life for insulin-dependent individuals,” explains Murphy. 

Though PhyR was the champion, the top eight teams each received $15,000 and an opportunity to participate in the Founders Launchpad this summer. The launchpad takes place from May through August and offers each team free office space, a lead mentor, weekly trainings, dinners with successful entrepreneurs, and a chance to pitch their businesses to potential investors.

Murphy encourages all aspiring entrepreneurs to consider participating in the New Venture Challenge because of the opportunities the challenge provides, regardless if they win. “The most valuable lessons and takeaways come simply through the process of being involved,” he says. “In other words, get involved in the New Venture Challenge because the process itself and the people you meet will give you ideas and help your business more than any prize money could.”

The top eight teams included:

Ascendant Anxiety Tracker – Hailey Krey, Kenneth Christensen, Dillon Bryan

Canary Safety – Kaden Weber, Palmer Hatch, Ian Sanderson

Care Weather Technologies – Patrick Walton, Alex Laraway

ControlAlt – Andrew Hirschi, Crawford Gates, Parker Ellis, Aaron Egbert

Male from Home – Marissa Johnson

PhyR – Connor Behr, Anika Behr, Ben Johnson, Joshua Vanderpool, George Bennion, Ben Murphy, Wesley Stirk, Emily Cannon, Jackson Wagstaff, Jaik Harris

SlideKick Technologies – Matt Norton, Kevin Sites, Sam Norton

The Girls Company – Zoia Ali, Taimi Kennerley, Abby Warner

The New Venture Challenge is a part of the Miller Competition Series.
The New Venture Challenge is a part of the Miller Competition Series.

Media Contact: Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Sarah Calvert