2021 Michigan Business Challenge Spotlight – EpiSLS

Shannon Beeman
February 24, 2021

MBC Invention Track

The Zell Lurie Institute’s campus-wide business plan competition, the Michigan Business Challenge (MBC), concludes on Friday, February 26. ZLI will highlight each of the entrepreneurial student teams competing in the 2021 MBC Finals.

Startup Description

Parker Martin University of Michigan Business Plan Zell Lurie InstituteEpiSLS is a novel medical device enabling automated, in-vivo allergy testing with a rapid, safe, and reliable platform. Parker Martin (MD, MBA ’22).

What was the origin of this venture? How was the problem or opportunity discovered?

One day while completing my surgical rotation I heard the anesthesiologist mention that we could not give preferred antibiotics our patient because of a penicillin allergy. This was the first time I realized allergies were causing compromise in the way we care for patients, but as I became aware of it, I started seeing these compromises everywhere.

I dove into learning more about allergies, why certain allergies seem so common, and what affect these allergies are having on patient outcomes. It turns out it is an even bigger problem than I had realized. I picked up an elective rotation with the division of Allergy & Immunology to learn more about what is currently being done, and eventually I saw an opportunity to innovate.

What do you think will be the long-term impact of launching your venture?

I hope that the long-term impact of EpiSLS will be to bring better health to patients and communities. Right now, there is a lot of unnecessary morbidity and even mortality being caused by lack of access to reliable allergy testing. I hope that EpiSLS will solve this problem by enabling allergy testing in settings where it was previously impossible, and in communities that otherwise wouldn’t have access.

How did you form your team?

I am still trying to figure this one out! For now, it is a team of one.

How has participation in MBC helped move your venture forward?

When you have been working on your venture for a while it is easy to trick yourself into thinking you have the important parts figured out. Needing to articulate your thoughts into a presentation that can be understood by someone who has never heard of your idea before is a powerful exercise which has helped me refine and focus my plans for the future. The Michigan Business Challenge takes teams through each step of the process providing structure and incentive to practice putting these thoughts onto paper and into presentation.

What has been your biggest takeaway from the MBC experience (so far)?

My biggest takeaway has been how many brilliant people I am going to school with. Although we all have different backgrounds and interests, MBC has been full of teams working on projects that feel important and impactful.

What are your plans following MBC? How would prize money help your venture?

After MBC I plan to keep pushing towards launch. Medical device commercialization is a long path – from design to regulatory approval often takes years. I will keep refining my product, keep testing it, and hopefully get it in front of the FDA before too long. Prize money from MBC will be a great benefit helping to offset the many expensive parts of setting up a medical device company and bringing me one step closer to getting EpiSLS into the clinics and hospitals where it can make a difference.

What advice do you have for other student entrepreneurs?

Take your idea and try. It does not have to be perfect before you get started – in fact, it almost never will be. If you have a good idea start doing customer discovery interviews, make a prototype, and get feedback. The fear doing it wrong and the momentum to get started are the biggest obstacles you will face. Everything you need to know can be learned along the way.

2021 Michigan Business Challenge Finals 

The 2021 Michigan Business Challenge Finals will be held Friday, February 26. Follow these outstanding University of Michigan student startups through ZLI social media.