NJIT student wins prestigious UPitchNJ competition

Parsippany native honored for Releaf, app that aids treatment of traumatic brain injuries

Nearly 3 million people a year in the U.S. suffer a traumatic brain injury, which comes with an $11.5 billion cost to the country’s health care system.

Here’s the problem: That treatment isn’t as complete as it could or should be.

Yashwee Kothari, a computer science student at New Jersey Institute of Technology from Parsippany, founded Releaf to help.

Releaf, a remote TBI symptom monitoring app for use by patients and their health care providers, works to help providers better connect with patients and track their TBI symptoms between in-person examinations.

Using the app, health care providers can conduct real-time check-ins, helping deliver an enhanced level of interaction that can result in improved treatment outcomes. The interface has been designed specifically to accommodate the needs and possible limitations of TBI patients.

Last month, Releaf helped Kothari take first place in the sixth annual UPitchNJ, an innovative statewide collegiate business model competition intended to showcase the Garden State’s top young talent. The competition was organized by the UPitchNJ consortium, which represents the entrepreneurship education programs at New Jersey’s four-year colleges and universities, in partnership with Nokia Bell Labs.

Cindy Han of Princeton University took second place for Junction, which promotes itself as bringing flexibility and efficiency to online grading.

Laurent Shiels of Rutgers University was awarded third for Solace, a mental health service app.

And Justin Murray of Stevens Institute of Technology was given the award for best early stage startup for ObSkill, a digital platform designed to connect college students for internship work with startup ventures.

Click here to see the five-minute presentations of all 12 finalists.

To help the undergraduate entrepreneurship students prepare for the competition, Nokia Bell Labs paired each student startup team with a Nokia Bell Labs senior executive to serve as a mentor.

Susan Scherreik, chair of the UPitchNJ consortium and founding director of the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Seton Hall University, said the partnership was of great help.

“We are extremely grateful to Nokia Bell Labs for this extraordinary and innovative collaboration,” she said. “Thanks to the coaching the teams received from New Jersey’s top corporate research scientists at Nokia Bell Labs, our collegiate entrepreneurship students are taking their startups to new heights.”

Students from 12 schools in the state participated: