Rhaeos, BrewBike win over $500,000 in pitch competition


Source: Northwestern Now

The Rhaeos team poses with their winnings at the Rice Business Plan Competition. The company, founded by engineering prof. John Rogers, makes medical devices for patients with hydrocephalus.

Gabby Birenbaum, Campus Editor

Two Northwestern startups were awarded a combined total of over $500,000 in the Rice Business Plan Competition earlier this month, according to a Northwestern news release.

Rhaeos, a medical device company founded by engineering Prof. John Rogers and the department of neurological surgery, and BrewBike, a student-run coffee company, placed fourth and sixth in the competition, respectively.

Rhaeos’ fourth-place finish yielded a $5,000 prize and $450,000 in investments from multiple funds. The company works with patients who have hydrocephalus, a condition in which fluid builds up in the cavities of the brain and puts pressure on it. Rogers and his collaborators have built a device to help detect shunt failures in patients’ brains, and the group is currently working to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

In his pitch, Rogers said the technology his company developed will make treatment much simpler.

“I’ve seen children undergo over 200 brain surgeries, contributing to the over $2 billion in annual related health care expenses,” Rogers said. “I started Rhaeos to do better for my patients. Working with flexible electronics, we’ve created the world’s first wireless wearable shunt monitor.”

Amit Ayer, a Feinberg sixth-year and co-founder of Rhaeos, said the funding the group received in the competition will help the company take the next step.

“This funding will be invaluable in helping to take our technology from an experimental phase to one where it can benefit patients and shed further insight into the pathophysiology of hydrocephalus,” he said.

BrewBike, a 2015 student-founded startup with a residency in The Garage, earned $3,500 from their sixth-place finish and received $100,000 from the GOOSE Society. In his pitch, founder and chief growth officer Lucas Philips emphasized the company’s expansion to other campuses besides Northwestern’s, including the University of Texas at Austin.

“The Rice Business Plan Competition was a challenge,” the SESP senior said in the release. “Ultimately, we succeeded, winning more than $100,000 and networking with investors who can help us execute our plan at scale.”

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