Tech Student Entrepreneur Advances in Global Pitch Competition

MTU student Ali Dabas and Rourke Sylvain posing with a large check
Rourke Sylvain, pictured right, earlier this year with fellow Tech student, Ali Dabas.

From an applicant pool of 600 students, Rourke Sylvain, president of Michigan Tech’s chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO), is among the 100 participants selected to compete in the 39th Annual Global Pitch Competition hosted by the University of Tampa. Over the next month, Rourke, who is a graduate student pursuing biomedical engineering, will create a four-phase online investor pitch deck—the problem, the solution, a business model, and a video pitch.

Twenty semifinalists will move on to present their ideas live at the Global Conference in Chicago, Illinois, to be held October 28-30. The highly selective conference and competition promises to “Frame Your Future” with an assembly of some of the brightest minds in collegiate entrepreneurship.

Founded in 1983, CEO has a global network of more than 250 college and university chapters, and supports and inspires the growth and development of students seeking to be entrepreneurial. Michigan Tech’s chapter of CEO was established last year, and the environment in the College of Business (COB) is rich for tech-savvy innovation.

“Rourke’s opportunity is a reflection of the advancements we can make when STEM intersects with business.”

Jon Leinonen, COB faculty member who advises CEO at Tech

Rourke is advancing Integrated Molecular Innovations LLC, an enterprise centered on his research on electrochemical biosensors. His end goal is to develop a device that can remotely monitor thyroid hormones in patients. According to Rourke’s research, more than 3 million people are diagnosed with hypothyroidism every year. Many lived with symptoms for years pre-diagnosis, and most don’t find a stable medication regimen for another year or more. He says the current testing protocol requires patients to travel to a medical provider’s office or a central clinical laboratory every few months to have blood drawn and tested. Rourke’s device will allow for home testing, resulting in a richer data set for physicians and faster diagnosis and symptom relief.

MTU student Rourke standing near podium
Rourke aims to improve the wellbeing of people living with hypothyroidism.

Rourke’s pitch must include value proposition, customer discovery, product-market fit, investment requirements, and customer pain points. Much of his entrepreneurial training has come through his participation in Husky Innovate, a series of events, workshops, and resources designed to guide students through key phases of innovation and business development.

MTU student Rourke on stage pitching his enterprise
Through his involvement in Husky Innovate, Rourke has already gained pitching experience and success on campus and beyond.

Earlier this year, Rourke saw significant success when he was selected to pitch during TCNewTech’s University Showcase, part of Michigan Tech’s Grand Traverse region initiative. During Central Michigan University’s New Venture Competition, Rouke and fellow biomedical engineering student Ali Dabas earned second place in the “High-Tech, High-Growth” category, with a prize of $5,000 in seed money. 

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, business analytics, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.