As a biomedical engineering student at the University of Texas at San Antonio, New Braunfels resident Devanshi Patel co-founded a company called Tranquility Therapeutics with three fellow students.
The 2017 Canyon High School and recent UTSA graduate, along with her team of Amanda Gomez, Kennedy Howland and Marijose Sanchez, developed a unique therapeutic breathing device called Triple P Relief that helps people breathe and overcome hyperventilation while experiencing a panic attack or anxiety. The device can also help people who are uncomfortable taking oral medication.
“The patient breathes through a breathing channel and is guided by light and sound,” Patel said. “It helps the patient calm down and distracts them from a panic attack.”
Devanshi’s own struggles with anxiety inspired her to create the device.
“This was a team effort,” she said. “All of us have struggled with panic attacks. So we thought there was a need for a device other than pharmaceuticals.”
Triple P Relief earned some early success. It won second place at the university’s Big Rowdy Ideas competition for aspiring entrepreneurs.
The company also obtained $2,000 in funding from Quality of Life Plus along with an additional $1,500 in funding from UTSA’s Rowdy Tank Sponsorship.
However, the big prize came when Devanshi and her team won the university’s annual Venture Technology Competition worth up to $100,000 in funding, mentoring and legal support.
“It allows students to get validation for their product, and it gives us more confidence to pursue this as a business,” she said.
The Tech Venture competition gives students valuable hands-on experience in what it takes to make it in the startup business world.
Students from different disciplinary backgrounds work together to design and develop a product to take to market.
The teams are typically made up of senior engineering, computer science or liberal arts students, and senior business students create the business plans. The process takes months from start to finish.
During that time, the team executes market research, develops
a prototype, tests it and prepares a pitch on why their product would make a profit.
The team will now pursue a patent on the device, continue refining their prototype and leverage their Tech Venture win to attract venture capitalist funding.
“From here, we’re planning on expanding the business and doing more customer discovery and making the product more ergonomic,” she said. “We want to see it everywhere. We would like to see it over-the-counter, accessible to the general public. The device is not meant just to be prescribed by practitioners so it can be accessible to everyone.”
Devanshi said the team is currently testing the device with a veteran in San Antonio who suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Devanshi’s accolades also include her selection as a Texas Business Hall of Fame Scholar finalist. In addition, she has co-authored four research publications and taken leadership roles in several student organizations.
Her post-graduation plans include continuing her entrepreneurship with Tranquility Therapeutics and the company’s Triple P Relief device.
“I’m really passionate about this,” she said. “Some of my family members are also entrepreneurs. So I like the entrepreneurial world, and my family is really supportive of me pursuing this as a business.”
She is also using her degree in biomedical engineering and startup company as an inspiration to young women in her native country of India to follow their dreams despite often being victims of gender inequality. Her family came to the US while she was in third grade, and she is a first-generation college student.
“I think hard work requires you to be passionate about whatever you do,” she said. “Never give up and always ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone’s here to help you succeed.”
And she thanked her teachers for their help.
“UTSA has been really supportive,” she said. “All the teachers there are really exceptional. They’ve really been supportive in everything I’ve done throughout my career. I am who I am because of the support I’ve received from Canyon High School and UTSA.”