After winning Governor’s Cup, UA Little Rock student startup has eyes on bigger prize

UA Little Rock students Noah Asher (left) and Nick Lester (right). Photo provided by Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center.

UA Little Rock students Nick Lester and Noah Asher are putting their prize-winning business plan into action. 

Their company, Spiritum Solutions, along with team members Kiauna Rome and Ingrid Helgestad, won the undergraduate division of the 2018 Arkansas Governor’s Cup. Now they want to bring their innovative medical device – a mouth guard to keep patients undergoing surgery or other procedures from injuring themselves – to market.

The young entrepreneurs are getting help with their startup from the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center.

 On-campus assistance

The center’s Martial Trigeaud met Lester in 2016 when Trigeaud was a UA Little Rock graduate student. They competed in the Governor’s Cup together.

Lester reached out to his former teammate, now an ASBTDC business consultant, to help the Spiritum Solutions team prepare for this year’s competition.

“I helped them prioritize all their great ideas into something they can manage and deliver,” said Trigeaud.

Spiritum has also benefited from the center’s in-depth customer and competitor research.

“Martial has worked with us since we just were an idea, to help us secure funding, and now looking into SBIR grants. He continues to check up on our progress to help address our ever-changing needs,” said Lester.

The market research is extensive and allows us to look into areas that we might not have considered before,” Lester said. “We use these reports as a guide for who we might need to make customer discovery with next.”

 Entrepreneur mindset

While the Governor’s Cup prize was $25,000, commercializing a medical device will require a much larger sum of money and moving from a student mindset to an entrepreneur mindset,” said Trigeaud. “You raise a little through competitions, but you need millions to launch.”

Lester and Asher understand the challenge before them and appreciate having Trigeaud and the center in their corner.

“As our company grows, our needs change with the growth,” said Lester. “We will consult with experts at the ASBTDC in helping us address our ever-changing needs.”

This article was written by Gwen Green, communications coordinator at the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center. 

Share this Post: