School of Dentistry alumni among finalists, semifinalists in MN Cup
Three alumni achieved great success in the 2023 MN Cup, with one becoming a division runner-up and one placing second in the competition overall.
Hosted by the Carlson School of Management, MN Cup is an annual competition that supports entrepreneurs by connecting them with mentorship opportunities. Ninety semi-finalists are selected each year and undergo mentorship, workshops and events throughout the summer, before presenting in competition for the grand prize in the fall.
Jennifer Rooney, BSDH ’93, is the sales manager of REMastered Sleep. The company aims to tackle obstructive sleep apnea through a product they call REMplenish, “an easy everyday solution to strengthen the muscles of the tongue, neck and throat to reduce the risk of vibration that leads to snoring.”
“Poor airway health and inadequate sleep are commonly overlooked, but they are contributors to many chronic health conditions,” Rooney explained. “If you’re not breathing well, you’re not sleeping well and you’re not living well.”
Geoff Sudit, DDS ’14, an orthodontist with a passion for technology, developed Bright Referral, a digitization of the medical referral process. “We’re changing the game with NFC-enabled Bright Cards paired with custom, patent-pending Saas,” he explained. “Instead of a GP scribbling a name on a paper pad, the referring doctor just taps our card to a patient’s phone to make a referral. The patient then gets all of the information they need to make a smart choice for their medical care.”
Leigh Colby, DDS, MBA ’79, founder and CEO of Triagenics, developed Zero3 TBA, a revolutionary method of preventing wisdom teeth from forming. Zero3TBA uses a modified tumor ablation technology. “Because of the surgical risks involved, wisdom teeth are referred out to oral surgeons 80% of the time,” he explained. “It’s the highest area of litigation in dentistry. But with our technology, a general practitioner can treat the tooth bud in 60 to 90 seconds at their office to prevent wisdom teeth from ever forming. We’re unaware of any other ablation technology that has this level of precision.”
All three alumni joined the competition to gain experience, feedback and connections. Rooney’s organization applied in 2021 and received great feedback before she was even part of the team. “Now, in 2023, we are ready to revamp our overall business strategy of communicating the problem in a new and exciting way as we prepare to launch a new product this fall,” she said.
Sudit, similarly, pursued the competition to gain insights. “Based on my experience at the School of Dentistry, I knew that MN Cup would be full of amazing people to learn from,” he said. “The networking opportunities are second to none, and we knew that whether we won or not, we’d come out of the experience more prepared to build a successful business.”
Colby found the opportunity to connect with investors intriguing. “I thought, why not?,” he said. And along the way, he has also found great support and encouragement. “I was introduced to two fantastic mentors, who are really insightful,” he said. “I’ve gained connections across the world.”
The semi-finalists are honored to be among such prestigious entrepreneurs, and have relished the experiences of learning and growing.
“The program is very competitive, and it is a great honor to make it to the semi-finalist stage and have the support of the start-up community,” reflected Rooney. She expressed her excitement to gain communication and strategy insights and connect with stakeholders across disciplines to make the product as great as it can be. “There are some really creative and innovative people out there tackling big issues in many industries.”
Sudit was excited and surprised to become a semifinalist, and has similarly enjoyed learning from other competitors. “Hearing everyone’s pitches was truly inspiring,” he said. “It showcases how diverse perspectives make innovation so much richer.”
Colby and Rooney’s organizations both advanced to the finals, along with 25 other companies—three per division. Colby was named a runner up in the LifeScience/Health IT division. Rooney and REMplenish won the General division, receiving a $25,000 prize and the opportunity to compete alongside eight other teams in the grand final. Ultimately, REMplenish was named runner-up in the competition overall.
“REMastered Sleep is very excited to have placed second in the MN Cup competition,” Rooney said. “ The recognition the competition provides has helped us propel our message that the REMplenishTM Myo-Nozzle offers a simple and easy solution to improve airway health, to help combat the negative impact of poor breathing and sleep on our mental and physical wellbeing.”