Kent State Entrepreneur Wins Burton D. Morgan Pitch U Competition
Kent State University’s Shanice Cheatham is one step closer to helping healthcare workers stop the spread of disease in underdeveloped countries. Cheatham took first place and won $4,500 in the PITCH U elevator competition at the University of Akron, with the generous support of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation.
Cheatham is the founder of Endemic Solutions LLC. The company is in the development phases for its Endemic Filtration Portable Handwashing System. Healthcare professionals treating patients in countries with undeveloped water sources can carry around and use the backpack-style filtration system.
Cheatham is passionate about stopping the spread of infectious disease. She nearly lost her father to MRSA, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, which is a type of staph bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Since then, Cheatham has turned her attention to underdeveloped countries. She says healthcare providers at more than 60,000 facilities worldwide do not have anywhere to wash their hands due to inadequate water systems.
Cheatham has been working on her venture with the advisors at LaunchNET Kent State for about a year, developing the prototype design, researching the market and pitching her idea in a variety of arenas. She appreciated the opportunity to learn more.
“This pitch competition couldn’t have come at a better time for me,” Cheatham says. “I’m at the point with my product where this money will be able to propel me to the next level of development. Even though I’ve done my pitch many times before, I learned some new techniques at the workshop that I think really helped me take my pitch to the next level.”
Cheatham has been featured on the Kent State website, has been a finalist for two consecutive MAGNET product competitions, and served as a judge for this year’s LaunchNET Elevator Pitch competition.
Cheatham is pursuing a graduate degree in environmental health sciences at Kent State. She was one of 42 Northeast Ohio university entrepreneurs who competed in the full-day event.
Scott Shane, Ph.D., professor of entrepreneurial studies and professor of economics at Case Western Reserve University and research fellow at the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, who headed the event, was pleased with the turnout.
“The quality of the pitches was extraordinarily high this year,” Shane says. “Among both the winners and those who did not take home prize money, there were several very promising companies.”