Experience, TiE Youth, Writing

12: My Favorite Thing at CES Wasn’t Even Electronic

January 19, 2018

When you walk the show floor at CES, everything blends together in a swirling mass of sweaty travelers, almost real products, and lots of blue LED light. So how do you spot something truly remarkable? Kind of like Indiana Jones did in the Last Crusade. You look for the cup of a carpenter, or the thing that stands out for not standing out. Veripad, was my favorite thing at #CES2018 because it solves a big problem without huge electronic bling. In short, Veripad is a system for testing the authenticity of pills consisting of a paper card inscribed with chemical test strips. You place the drug to test on the card, dip it water, and snap a pic of the resulting colors. Their handy app (optional) will tell you if the drug is counterfeit or not.

So why does this matter? Counterfeit medicines are a huge global problem as reported by the WHO. If you don’t think this applies to you, think again. An estimated 1 in 10 pills in developing countries are fake or substandard.

  • Do you take birth control pills? Anti-malaria pills? Fake versions have been found to contain only potato starch.
  • Ordering from an online pharmacy? Here’s a way to test you haven’t been ripped off.
  • Traveling in a foreign country and unsure of the quality of the meds you bought? Keep a tester in your wallet.
  • Worried about a cheating athlete? Validate that each dose doesn’t contain something illegal.
  • Want to know where tainted drugs are found and how/how much they are tainted? Now we have data.

The brilliant part is that Veripad test cards can be mass produced with screen printing, making them extremely cheap even in small quantities. This is perfect for anywhere in the world.

The story doesn’t end there.

You know what makes my heart really, truly sing? This product was pitched at TiE Young Entrepreneurs Global competition 2 years ago by a team from Detroit. It was an unforgettable pitch, that surprisingly merited only a minor award.  Two entrepreneurs were moved by the idea and created a company around the intellectual property.  They built on the work of the TYE team, joining a startup accelerator at Merck.  This is the first time I’ve spotted a TYE company in the wild, and in such a prestigious show!  The Veripad booth  stopped me in my tracks because it didn’t try to draw me in with lights and devices, but with their story (I admit, I was staring, dumbfounded). Midway, I stopped the co-founder and finished the pitch for him, remembering the power of their story.

This post is dedicated to my TYE students who read my blog. Your ideas are amazing and you can build the right team to build the right product for the right market. Age doesn’t matter. Execution and the ability to solve a problem for your customer does. If Veripad can do it, you can too.

I hope to see you at CES in the coming years.  I’m so proud of you.


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