Device Designed to Curb Pitching Injuries Takes Top Prize at Contest

Senthil Natarajan was selected the winner from eight finalists at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards at Southern Methodist University.

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ENTREPRENEURS’ ORGANIZATION DALLAS SHOWCASES STUDENT STARTUPS


Senthil Natarajan knows the effect overuse and repetitive motions can have on the body.

At 14, an arm injury he sustained while pitching kept him from returning to the mound.

“Baseball pitching is an inherently unnatural motion on the human body placing a violent amount of stress on the arm,” Natarajan said.

It’s an issue that more young athletes are facing these days.

But, the Rice University senior said a device he developed can help decrease common injuries seen in baseball pitchers.

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Senthil Natarajan wears a Ziel Sensory Sleeve on his left arm during his Global Student Entrepreneur Awards presentation.

The Ziel Sensory Sleeve, which uses sensors to provide real time analytics to coaches on athletes’ muscle fatigue and stress, took the top prize Tuesday at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards at Southern Methodist University.

“When the coaches are able to visualize this feedback, it’s not only helping them be a safer pitcher, but it’s also helping them become a better pitcher,” Natarajan said.

EO DALLAS PARTNERS WITH SPURSTARTUP

The event was one in a global series of Entrepreneurs’ Organization competitions inviting college students to present their early-stage businesses.  

Natarajan was among eight finalists who presented in the EO Dallas chapter’s contest.

Other finalists, who represented SMU and The University of Texas at Dallas, had startups ranging from a reusable 3D cake decorating tool to an online platform that cuts the search time out of finding things to do.

“I was absolutely impressed with the quality of the presentations,” said Steve Kinder, who helped organize the EO Dallas contest. “… I think it really shows the potential of what’s coming out of a lot of the schools around here.”

In its second year to host a contest, EO Dallas partnered with SPURstartup, which helps student entrepreneurs further their ideas through mentorship, education, and its crowdfunding platform.

Local GSEA finalists launched crowdfunding campaigns Tuesday through the SPURstartup website that will run through Dec. 29. Ten percent of the money raised will be donated to Entrepreneurs For North Texas to offer entrepreneurship education for low-income youth.

“At the end of the day there has to be one winner, but there’s no reason that we can’t support the other ideas that are still good.” 

Maggie Barton

“At the end of the day there has to be one winner, but there’s no reason that we can’t support the other ideas that are still good,” SPURstartup CEO and Co-founder Maggie Barton said.

Kinder said he sees potential for SPURstartup to forge partnerships with other EO chapters to help raise awareness for GSEA competitions. For the Dallas event, the relationship helped bring in more student applicants and interest.

“I feel like SPURstartup had a great impact,” he said “We were able to connect in ways through social media, on campuses, and through the online networking that they do that EO just doesn’t have a presence and exposure to do very well.”

GETTING TO THE NEXT LEVEL

As the winner, Natarajan received $4,000 in cash as well as several in-kind services for his business, Ziel Solutions.

He will travel to Kansas City, Missouri in March for the GSEA Nationals competition. The winner of that round will advance to the Global Finals in Frankfurt, Germany in April.

Natarajan plans to use his winnings for customer development and further prototyping of the sleeve, which is designed to slip on a player’s pitching arm and deliver the muscle analytics via Bluetooth to a smartphone or tablet.

He’s already been in touch with high school baseball programs in the Houston area and hopes to make inroads into the Dallas athletic community. He expects to start beta testing his product next summer and begin accepting pre-sales in 2018.

“Players are pitching more than ever, harder than ever, younger than ever,” Natarajan said.

The 15-19 age group made up more than half of patients undergoing ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, or Tommy John surgery, in research published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine in 2015. As part of the study, researchers looked at 790 patients who had the surgery from 2007-2011.

“Our mission is to deliver technology that completely unlocks the data behind your entire understanding of physical activity.” 

Senthil Natarajan

High school athletes will be Ziel Solutions initial target market, but Natarajan envisions his product filtering into collegiate and professional sports as well.

The technology also has applications beyond baseball to help veterans rehabilitate from war injuries or assist people suffering from neuromuscular diseases.

“Our mission is to deliver technology that completely unlocks the data behind your entire understanding of physical activity,” Natarajan said.

Here’s a look at other finalists from EO Dallas’ Global Student Entrepreneur Awards.

Margie Anderson

School: SMU

Company description: Reading For a Reason holds events geared toward getting elementary students interested in reading. 


Tram-Anh Le

School: UTD

Company description: IcingAid is a reusable 3D cake decorating tool that enables people to hone their decorating skills without spending time baking a cake or using disposable styrofoam cake dummies.


Jett Monroe

School: SMU

Company description: Pat On Back is a free-to-download platform that cuts cyberbullying out of the social media experience. 


Lauren Morgan

School: SMU

Company description: LaunchPad Academy will offer classes teaching kids about PC building and repair. 


John Mullin

School: SMU

Company description: CityStream is an online platform that cuts the search time out of finding things to do.


Olivia Nguyen

School: SMU

Company description: College Bound is a Saturday enrichment program for high school students that prepares them for college. 


Bradley Ritschel

School: UTD

Company description: Myeline Solutions offers a treatment for multiple sclerosis using gene editing. 

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UTD student Bradley Ritschel of Myeline Solutions talks about the company’s gene editing treatment for multiple sclerosis.

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UTD student Tram-Anh Le of IcingAid describes how her 3D cake decorating tool will save decorators time and catch frosting like a real cake would.

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SMU student Jett Monroe is working to create a social media platform that cuts out cyberbullying.

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SMU student Margie Anderson talks about how Reading for a Reason’s events get elementary students excited about reading.

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Global Student Entrepreneur Awards finalists gather after the event Tuesday.


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