Published on Apr 25, 2016
Five companies run by student entrepreneurs at NMSU gave their best pitches to local investors at the “Aggie Shark Tank” in hopes of taking their businesses to the next level. Just about $80,000 was invested in total across the five companies.
The businesses that gave their pitches at the Aggie Shark Tank ranged from sports equipment, to retro gaming, to health technology. One of the day’s big winners was VR Health Journeys; the 4 sharks invested $30,000 for 20% of the company, and they also won cash prizes for being both the Shark Favorite and the Crowd Favorite.
Steve Eiserling one of the Co-Founders of VR Health Journeys says the company brings Virtual Reality Equipment into health care facilities to help improve the quality of life for patients.
“It also started with basically just wanting to help people that are in palliative care try to get out of their environments because they are stuck in it,” Eiserling said. “And so we use Virtual Reality Equipment to bring experiences to them so they can get out and express themselves, and we found along the terms as we’re doing this there is also a benefit in pain relief and things like that as well too, so it’s been kind of a double whammy.”
The Journey has been driven by personal goals as well as financial ones. Billy Welsh, the other Co-Founder of VR Health Journeys has Cerebral Palsy and wanted to find a way to help friends and loved ones in long-term care facilities.
“I realize that there is a lot of boredom and a lot of things going on,” Welsh said. “And it gets really depressing because you’re stuck in a room, especially when you’re a kid. You want to go out and play, but you can’t go out and play because of physical and mental things. So, we’re offering people a solution to let people use state of the art virtual reality, so that they can see the world beyond their room or the bed that their confined to.”
Eiserling says the investment will help them get the equipment and start providing services to local facilities who have already expressed interest in their services.
“We’re going to look at cancer and dialysis centers because they deal with a lot of time that they have to waste as well as chronic pain,” Eiserling said. “Senior centers as well as other long-term care facilities, and drug and alcohol treatment centers too.”
Beto Pallares, one of the Sharks who invested in the company, says this is one of the most innovative uses for Virtual Reality he’s seen.
“What I found really exciting is the ability to link the aspect of Virtual Reality to a real, known market,” Pallares said. “And this case it’s the therapeutic market, whether it’s for older people, or people in therapies and I found that to be really novel and a really good thing to invest in.”
Pallares says tech is a good industry to invest in.
“If you want to create a culture of innovation,” Pallares said. “You have to support the people who are going out to the edge and saying I have this idea, and I need to validate it in this way or that way. We can’t just assume that the only technology we have access to is what we buy from Amazon, or what we go to Best Buy for, we have to invest in our own innovation.”
Billy Welsh is excited to see the impact that VR Health Journeys can have.
“My goal is honestly to get this in every hospital all over the world,” Welsh said. “To change the face of the medical industry is viewed, to get people off of prescription drugs, to make life a little bit more fun.”
All five companies that pitched at the Aggie Shark Tank received some type of assistance, whether it is money, time, or business connections.