Business and engineering students win national business competition with pediatric healthcare startup | Rowan Today

Like many great business ideas, this one started with a simple premise: kids love stickers.

On that premise, two students from the Rohrer College of Business (RCB) and the Henry M. Rowan School of Engineering have launched a company that provides sterile medical-grade stickers in a rainbow of colors and styles to adorn syringe barrels, IV bags, and other children’s medical devices.

Senior Nicholas Nastasi, who majored in business administration and minored in entrepreneurship, and Joshua Perry, who majored in biomedical engineering, started 4U Medical Designs after starting his studies at Rowan University, which has already generated a substantial revenue stream.

The company took first place in October and took home an $8,000 prize. 27 at 39day It won $2,500 in April’s RCB New Ventures competition at the annual CEO Global Conference and pitch competition in Chicago.

What’s more, the company expects to generate $95,000 in sales by next August.

The stickers—all original artwork sealed to preserve sterility before being placed on medical equipment—are designed to ease the anxiety of young patients in hospitals and doctors’ offices.

Nastasi and Perry, childhood friends from Gloucestertown, say seven hospitals across the country have used their stickers, including Shriners for Children Medical Center in Pasadena, Calif.; Sman Children’s Hospital; and Meath Country Hospital in Safe Harbor, Florida.

“We’re lucky to have an idea that can impact so many patients,” Nastasi said after their win in Chicago.

He said the idea for starting the company was inspired by his own childhood illness, which required a brief hospital stay. The medical equipment needed for his care, from syringes to plastic IV bags, feels cold and unnerving, Nastasi said.

4U Medical Designs produces a variety of kid-friendly medical equipment stickers designed to relieve anxiety, including sports, sea life, unicorns, smiley faces, dinosaurs, dogs and cats, and jungle animals.

Perry cites a study from the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center stating that “decorative IV bags and syringes can reduce patient aversion by 83%, fear by 53%, and anxiety by 73%.”

However, he said, “One of our early concerns was combating cross-contamination, which led to the design of a thin-film coating for each sticker to prevent cross-contamination.”

Nastasi, CEO of 4U Medical Designs, and Perry, vice president of corporate operations, said the long-established collaborative practice between the business and engineering schools directly influenced their firm’s founding and early success.

“I learned about the Chicago competition last year, and we were in the top 100 in the idea phase,” said Nastasi, who also chairs the Rowan chapter of the university’s entrepreneurship organization. “Given all the progress we made last year, I knew we had a chance to win.”

Perry said the company has applied for a utility model patent on medical device stickers and is currently one of the few competitors in the market.

“We’re creating the space, building the market,” he said. “Hospitals tell us they like the customizability of our products, and their patients really like them.”

Dr. Eric Liguori, Head of RCB’s School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SIE), said it was always exciting to see students succeed in business, especially if they hadn’t yet graduated.

“Interdisciplinary student entrepreneurial teams produced more mature and viable entrepreneurial concepts,” Liguori said, noting that SIE’s core focus is to encourage entrepreneurship on campus.

Mary Staehle, Ph.D. biomedical engineering interim department chair, said the natural connection between business and engineering and the experiential learning in the course provided a breeding ground for student entrepreneurship.

“Nick and Josh are shining examples of interdisciplinary innovation in healthcare,” Staehle said. “It’s easy to imagine their partnership leading to many successful ventures, and, for 4U Medical Designs, they’re off to a great start.”

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