Team Glucalm takes first place at Startup Quest® Investor Pitch

Mentor Sven Hanson selected the bloodless glucose testing UCF technology

Startup Quest® team Glucalm wants to take the pain out of glucose testing. The team placed first in the Startup Quest® investor pitch for its business plan and pitch presentation on a revolutionary, non-invasive, low-cost and portable glucose monitoring system. Startup Quest® mentor and Patent Attorney Sven Hanson chose the real technology as the basis for his team’s simulated business. Heather Winnie presented on behalf of Glucalm team members, Perungavur Ranganathan, Ricardo Silva, Yvonne Simmonds and David Steele.

During the 10-week Startup Quest® entrepreneurship training program, participants form teams led by highly successful entrepreneur mentors, create simulated companies and develop business plans based on real technologies. Mentors in this cohort selected technologies from NASA, UF, University of South Florida, University of Central Florida and Florida International University.

Tuesday’s Investor Pitch was the culmination of this cohort. Keynote speaker Mayor Ed Braddy discussed the growing entrepreneurship spirit and homegrown pathways here in Gainesville.

“Entrepreneurship is the surest way to destroy boxes,” he said noting that entrepreneurship is a viable option for anything from lifestyle businesses such as lawn care services to commercializing technologies used in the program. “All it takes is spirit.”

The second-place winner at Tuesday’s Startup Quest® Investor Pitch was team Compassion Diagnostics, mentored by Guy LaTorre, co-founder of Novamin Technology Inc. Team members Darlene Douglas and Jessica Lucas presented a technology used to aid in the early detection of shingles from NASA and the University of Colorado.

Compassion Diagnostic team members Jessica Lucas and Darlene Douglas with mentor Guy LaTorre (center). The team took second place at the Investor Pitch.

David Nessl, owner of Cogitous, LCC and St. Leo University adjunct professor, mentored the third-place team. Nessl’s team, NanoGentics Inc., used an FIU technology to bring desktop gene sequencing to hospitals. Team member Dalton Baker presented on behalf of the team: Jarue Cabezas, Nina Cornwell and Chen Xie Miller.

Mentor David Nessl (left to right) with NanoGenetics team members Nina Cornwell, Dalton Bakers and Jarue Cabezas. Chen Xie Miller, not pictured.

Graduates also took home $750, $500 and $250 each for first, second and third place, respectively.

Startup Quest® is a nationally recognized workforce development model that grows self-employment through entrepreneurship. Born from a joint effort of the University of Florida and CareerSource North Central Florida, the program was piloted in Gainesville and has since expanded with the help of a nearly $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Innovation Fund.

Startup Quest® has programs in Jacksonville, Daytona, Brevard, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee and Gainesville. Since the program’s 2013 statewide launch, nearly 700 trainees have become employed and 169 trainees have become self-employed. For more information about the program, visit

Startup Quest® is part of an evaluation study funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. Participants are selected from among eligible applicants.