UC San Diego Startup Selected as Finalist in UC Pitch Contest
A startup founded by a UC San Diego electrical and computer engineering graduate student is one of five finalists in the 2020 UC Pitch Startup Showcase held Jan. 29 and 30 in tandem with the Global Corporate Venturing and Innovation Summit in Monterey, Calif.
Educational Vision Technologies, founded by Monal Parmar, a UC San Diego electrical engineering master’s student and electrical engineering undergraduate alumnus, uses technology to help students study more efficiently. Specifically, EVT uses computer vision and machine learning algorithms to autonomously generate interactive notes and video from course lectures, without any extra work required on the part of the professor or lecturer.
During the UC Startup Pitch contest, Parmar will have five minutes to wow a room full of thousands of venture capitalists, and three judges who are also investors. The winning startup moves on to Extreme Tech Challenges’ regional round, and a shot at up to $10 million in funding.
“The biggest value I think is in just attending the conference,” said Parmar. “Presenting at it is crazy—there are 800 corporate VCs attending and the keynote is the president of Samsung Electronics, so for an early stage startup to present at the same conference as the president of Samsung, that’s a crazy opportunity.”
Though Parmar and the EVT team have racked up a slew of awards and funding—including wins at UC San Diego’s Basement Demo Day, Triton Entrepreneur Night, and Ignite’s pitch competition, as well as participation in the Institute for the Global Entrepreneur’s I-Corps program, funded by the National Science Foundation—they were still surprised when they learned they were a finalist at the UC-wide competition.
“It’s amazing that we were selected,” Parmar said. “I was totally stunned because the UC system is so vast and this competition includes alumni, faculty and students, so for us to get selected, that meant a lot. The UC system doesn’t joke when they say they want to support students, faculty, and alumni to create companies that will make an impact on society.”
After the competition and conference wraps up on Thursday, Parmar heads to Arizona State University the next day to compete in the Innovation Open competition. EVT is one of 28 startups selected from universities across the country vying for two $100,000 grand prizes. EVT is one of only three startups at Innovation Open from California, and the only startup selected from the University of California.
Widening the Lens
With a camera installed in the back of a classroom and some patent-pending algorithms and computer vision technology behind the scenes, students gain valuable study resources and a digital version of their course that enables efficient learning. The EVT system allows students to easily find specific portions of content using scrollable time-stamped notes, text transcripts, and keyword-searchable videos on a single web platform.
“EVT autonomously creates notes from a lecture, so students don’t have to write every single thing down and can focus more on understanding,” Parmar said. “It also enables them to study more efficiently outside of class through the ability to click on a word and be taken to the point in the lecture when the professor wrote that on the board or talked about it.”
The tool can also be used for lectures given with a traditional chalkboard or dry erase board, as well as for lectures using slides.
EVT’s pilot program targeted higher education settings, with successful trials at UC San Diego and the University of San Diego—with an electrical engineering course having an average of 58 percent of students logging in every week.
Parmar said the company has spent the past six months growing its team from four to 11 employees—most of whom are also UC San Diego alumni—and working on ensuring the product is scalable and fully automated. They’ve also branched out from focusing only on higher education to creating solutions for learning more broadly, focusing on corporate clients wanting to improve the effectiveness and cost for creating employee training and presentations.
“Learning occurs everywhere—we created a solution which optimizes learning in a higher ed setting, but a lot of issues in higher education also exist in other learning environments like corporations, conferences, and K-12 education,” Parmar said. “In addition to our higher ed offering, this year we’ve generalized our product to better fit a corporate market to expand into new areas and solve new challenges.”
Visit the EVT website to learn more.