Published: Feb. 8, 2024 By

Humsini AcharyaBoulder, Colorado, known for its scenic beauty and vibrant community, has been the backdrop for the fascinating journey of Humsini Acharya, a local who not only grew up in Boulder but pursued an unconventional yet rewarding academic path. 

Humsini's journey began with uncertainty about career paths, a sentiment many can relate to. That is when she decided to enroll in the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) College of Engineering and Applied Science Integrated Design Engineering (IDE) program that allows students to combine engineering with another field of their choice. Humsini had been interested in going into a research field all her life, so she found a unique opportunity to merge her interests in engineering and neuroscience. At that time, the absence of a biomedical engineering degree led her to start on a path that would ultimately shape her future career.

One distinctive aspect of the IDE program is how it incorporates a design-based course every year, which, for Humsini, was "Innovation and Entrepreneurship." This exposure to entrepreneurship challenged her preconceived notions as an engineering enthusiast and encouraged her to pitch her ideas and explore the business side of product development. Throughout her time in the class, Humsini discovered a passion for product development and laid the foundation for her entrepreneurial journey with her classmates. Together, they developed a smart walker that reduces fall risks caused by conventional walkers in older individuals, leading to the creation of Stride Tech.

New Venture Launch Challenge

The success of their project propelled them into the entrepreneurial spotlight and into competing in the New Venture Challenge (NVC), where they ultimately took the victory. Some basic NVC background is that the challenge connects the CU Boulder campus with the Boulder entrepreneurial community to develop and fund innovative ideas. Participants attend year-round events, network and collaborate with mentors to refine their ideas, and form startup teams that pitch for funding in the finals. Throughout the challenge, Humsini and her classmates transitioned from students with a groundbreaking idea to co-founders of a blossoming company.

While Humsini did not take on the role of the primary presenter in the challenge, she actively contributed by crafting the script and pitch for their innovative walker project. NVC demanded a blend of technical expertise and an understanding of the business aspects that support a successful product in the real world. Crafting a compelling story that combined these elements became a unique art form that Humsini found both demanding and rewarding.

Winning NVC brought great benefits to Humsini and her team. The financial reward allowed them to work on Stride Tech full-time after graduation. The challenge also gave them invaluable connections that they continued to foster as they built this business. 

One of the key takeaways from the NVC experience was communication skill enhancement. Engineers, often stereotyped as less sociable, were pushed out of their comfort zones. The challenge forced them to interact with strangers, refine their product pitches and learn the art of self-promotion. These skills proved essential during the competition and became valuable for the team members beyond the NVC.

“Having to practice talking to that many strangers and practice really selling your product and selling yourself was a really valuable lesson, and then obviously the money was huge and kind of allowed us that opportunity to actually work on it full time as opposed to having it die out in undergrad.”

Empowering Aging with Innovative Mobility Solutions

In a world where technology often overlooks the needs of older adults, Stride Tech emerges as a solution, focusing on enhancing the mobility and safety of older individuals. At the core of Stride Tech's mission is a product designed to revolutionize how older adults interact with walkers, crucial mobility aids that can both prevent and pose risks of falls. Stride Tech's solution addresses this delicate balance by providing real-time feedback on how individuals use their walkers throughout the day.

What sets Stride Tech apart is its ability to go beyond immediate feedback. The device collects data on walker usage, allowing for an in-depth understanding of an individual's mobility patterns. This data becomes a valuable resource for physical therapists and loved ones, enabling them to intervene or offer support when needed. The result is improved walker usage, enhanced balance, and a proactive approach to addressing the evolving needs of older adults. In discussing Stride Tech's vision for the future, Humsini emphasizes the company's commitment to integrating innovative technology into the older age sector, envisioning a future where the aging population walks confidently and safely, leveraging technology to enhance their overall well-being.

Humsini Acharya and her Stride Tech team

Fostering Innovation at the University of Colorado's Integrated Teaching and Learning Program

Humsini dedicated herself to the entrepreneurial venture for the next three years. However, the pragmatic realities of life eventually caught up with her, prompting a shift towards stability and the need for a job with health insurance. This transition brought her to the Integrated Teaching and Learning program at the University of Colorado (ITL), where her unique blend of experiences as an entrepreneur and rapid prototyping expert found a fitting role.

In the bustling space of the Integrated Teaching and Learning program, Humsini continues to foster innovation and inspire the next generation of engineers. The ITL Program facilitates hands-on engineering learning within an innovative environment, allowing students to seamlessly integrate engineering theory with practical experience, emphasizing a learn-by-doing approach. If you want to expand your knowledge and skills through a variety of workshops designed for students, sign up now!

 

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