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Gear rack made of recycled plastic a top winner in ASU Demo Day

$275,000 awarded to ASU, community entrepreneurship ventures

A venture founded by two Arizona State University alums that makes gear-storage racks out of recycled plastic has won a $10,000 investment.

Sean Dicke and Nicholas Raccosta won the money for their company, Strax Gear, in the Retail Devils funding track during the Demo Day pitch competition on April 30. Strax Gear makes a $79.99 Infinity Rack, which holds up to 40 pounds of gear, such as bikes or snowboards.

Dicke, who earned a master’s degree in industrial design in 2019, was inspired to create the storage rack while doing an internship for a ski manufacturer and he noticed how much waste was created.

“I decided to pursue gear organizers as traditional options were limited in quality and functionality,” said Dicke in his video pitch to the judges.

“Millennials want sustainably sourced products, now more than ever, which current solutions fail to meet.”

Raccosta earned a master’s degree in architecture from ASU in 2019.

Strax Gear, which has won thousands in previous Demo Days, was one of more than 40 Venture Devils teams that put together five-minute pitch videos for Demo Day, which was livestreamed Friday night.

Venture Devils is a program to support ASU students, staff, faculty and community entrepreneurs within the newly named J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute at ASU. A total of 166 Venture Devils teams applied for the competition, the most ever. A total of $275,000 was awarded for spring 2021.

“We want to create access no matter where you are in your development,” said Tracy Lea, associate director of venture development for the institute.

“If you just have an idea, we’re there for you, all the way up to you’re already getting revenue and need to scale, we’re there for you,” she said.

The pitch video for Tropical Almond showed a woman in Ghana describing how the company has helped her to make a living. Tropical Almond won $5,000 in the Mastercard Scholars Foundation Venture Challenge. At right is Tracy Lea, associate director of venture development for the institute, who hosted the event. Screen grab by Charlie Leight/ASU News

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Venture Challenge, a funding track for students from Africa who are studying at ASU as Mastercard Foundation Scholars, was launched in 2019. Those students’ ventures are projects to make a difference in their home countries. Lea said that the foundation has agreed to fund the competition for two more years. The winning ventures this semester were Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services, $6,500; Tropical Almond and Godsways Gari Factory, $5,000 each; Cocoa Potash and Mtendere Library, $2,500 each; FeedAfri Company, $2,000; FarmSens, $1,000, and Off Campus Hostels, $500.

One new funding competition this year was the Edson E+I Medtech Venture Challenge. The winners were Medvise by Efficient Patient Technologies, $5,000; Memory Glass and Elevated Wellness Solutions, $2,000 each, and MicroNOx Health, $1,000.

Additional spring 2021 Demo Day winners 

Ashton Family Venture Challenge: $10,000 to Munch Microgreens, an indoor vertical-farming company near Sky Harbor Airport that grows nutrient-rich salad greens.

The Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative: Three ventures won $20,000 each: ETHESUS, KinesioTech and NeurodiVR. Five ventures won $15,000 each: Black Dog Bikinis, IMD Solutions, Lockdown Bikes & Brakes, LED UVision and Westingtech.

The Sun Devil Athletics Venture Challenge: Organic Robots Corp., $12,500; Phlex, $7,500; and Nextiles Inc., $5,000.

The Edson E+I Social Impact Challenge awarded $10,000 to The New Beginnings Podcast, created by Aubrey Rhodes, a doctoral student in psychology, for children whose families are experiencing divorce. School Fuel and Leadership Society of Arizona won $5,000 each.

The eSeed Challenge gave $10,000 to Morality, $5,000 each to PeerSquared and Qwner, and $1,000 each to FitAtom, Get Gifted, Homesstat, Sturdy Startup, AGYA, Book Marked, Dext Technologies USA and Lightout.

Some of the ventures’ pitch videos can be seen on YouTube.

Top image: Jeff Kunowski, the associate director of innovation programs for the Global Sport Institute at ASU, announced the winners of the Sun Devil Athletics Venture Challenge at the Demo Day pitch competition on April 30. Screen grab by Charlie Leight/ASU News

marybeth.faller@asu.edu