Interview with SunAware, the Winning Team of Startup VSE
The Startup VŠE is a competition organized every semester by the Department of Entrepreneurship in cooperation with the VŠE xPORT accelerator. The winner of last semester was the SunAware team composed of CEMS students, whose project addresses the negative effects of UV radiation on children’s skin.
The first product of CEMS students is a cap that alerts parents in case of excessive sun exposure. The basis of the SunAware solution is a smart fabric that changes its colour according to the amount of UV radiation and thus warns parents. The SunAware team wants to gradually expand its product offering with additional smart fabrics.
The teams can register for the current round of the Startup VŠE competition until April 14 at startup.vse.cz. And if you want to be inspired by SunAwar’s success, read the interview with the whole team below.
What is SunAware and how does your product work?
Nowadays, many parents are concerned about the negative impacts of UV exposure on their children. But how much UV exposure is too much and how can we measure it?
We wanted to find a solution to this problem and came up with the first UV detecting hat for children. Using a smart textile solution, our hat indicates the level of UV exposure via a colour-changing strip. This way, parents are notified and can take appropriate action to protect their children from UV damage.
When did you come up with the idea? Was it solely for the purposes of the Startup VSE competition?
Part of the CEMS master’s degree at VSE is the Entrepreneurship class. Here we got the opportunity to come up with a startup idea and to work on it in a team from our cohort. In the beginning, SunAware started as a university project but very soon into the process we became more passionate about the idea and wanted to further pursue it. The startup competition was an amazing opportunity, where we got the unique chance to see what investors think about our idea.
Was it hard to convince the jury of the competition that your product is the best?
We were very happy when we got invited to the competition. For us, this was an amazing chance to showcase our product and get more feedback on it. We think that our passion and excitement helped to convince the jury. We do believe that our product and the idea, in general, have great potential and are getting more important, especially looking at skin cancer projections.
What are your roles in the team?
We initially worked on the project as a team of five people – Karel, Viktor, Konstantin, Kristof and Marsela. Three of us are continuing with the project. Our team consists of three goal-oriented and passionate CEMS students from VŠE – Karel, Viktor and Marsela. We don’t have 100% clear roles yet, but this will change as we continue with the project. At the moment we are rather dividing the tasks according to the time commitment of each member.
Can you see some limits of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
All founders have a business background. We know how to manage the business side. However, our product is a smart textile one. Of course, we are trying to understand the process as well as possible, but we are no experts.
That is why we are working with world-class researchers from the University of Liberec. We think that it is important to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to overcome them.
What are your plans for the project in future?
As a team, we aspire to become a smart textile company that provides customer-centric solutions through innovative smart textiles. This will go beyond clothing for children and UV detection and will cover a broad range of customer needs and use cases.
Do you think CEMS helped you in being successful with your project?
The Entrepreneurship class at CEMS VSE was the reason, we started this project. This class was the trigger to pursue the project. However, we have learned so much during other CEMS classes that really helped us. Ranging from how to market and finance the product to a more strategic approach for the company in general. With CEMS we have acquired a very broad range of business skills. Another point where CEMS helped us to be successful are different soft skills, such as teamwork and ambition.