Stacey Brandhorst will graduate from Oklahoma State University in May with two master's degrees, but she isn't interviewing for jobs.
Instead, she is about to become a full-fledged entrepreneur.
Brandhorst and her Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup teammates are determined to make their team's business plan, PristineCal, a reality. The Governor's Cup competition requires participants to select a new technology, research the market, write a business plan and pitch it to a panel of judges.
“On May 4th, PristineCal will be my job,” Brandhorst said. “It's a huge leap of faith. We have been through ups and downs, but creating this company has always been our goal.
PristineCal will provide a purification process for calcium based on licensed technology from OSU.
“Anything that has calcium in it also contains heavy metals,” Brandhorst said. “When you drink milk, eat calcium-fortified bread, or take calcium supplements, you are getting heavy metals. Trace amounts of these metals remain in your blood, bones and tissues. This can cause health problems, but there wasn't anything anyone could do about it until Dr. Allen Apblett of OSU found a way.”
The PristineCal team conducted more than 80 consultations to figure how to apply the technology to create a product that food companies would want to buy. Pris
“We have had a crash course over the last 10 months” Brandhorst said. “If you would have asked me anything about patent filing, disclosures or intellectual property contracts before, I would have sounded pretty clueless. Our team learned by doing.”
Brandhorst's journey from graduate student to entrepreneur began when she, Rachel Mui and Cory Perkins were randomly assigned to a business plan project at OSU. They decided to compete in the Governor's Cup, and Jay Omanson, an MBA candidate at OSU, joined the team.
“We are big believers that hard work pays off,” Brandhorst says. “I am finding more and more that people love our story — that we want to work hard and how random it was that we came together. We have the skills to make something happen and the dedication to follow through. We know that opportunities like this don't come around often. PristineCal is our chance, and we're taking it.”
Once entrepreneurship clicks, it clicks hard. That is the magic of the Oklahoma Governor's Cup.
Tom Walker is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state's technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact him at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.
DID YOU KNOW?
Stacey Brandhorst was named one of two $2,500 pitch winners at the Governor's Cup Awards Dinner for a 90-second pitch about PristineCal that she recorded after the team's finals presentation in the oral competition.