Two part-time MBA students from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business won second place in a science and technology entrepreneurship competition with PhareTech, a startup that delivers faster network speeds by consolidating data streams into single fiber-optic cables.
“You’re reducing the number of fibers in a system,” said Smith School student Andrew King, PhareTech CEO. “That’s a reduction in labor, installation, maintenance and energy costs.”
In more technical terms, PhareTech uses “wavelength division multiplexing” on local area networks to boost efficiency in data transfer and reduce the weight of fiber optics in the system.
The company impressed scientific and entrepreneurship experts at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Washington, D.C.-based technical society that hosted the Lab to Launch Competition. King and PhareTech co-founder Carlos Caicedo won $3,000 for their pitch after two rounds of judging.
The classmates started PhareTech in fall 2016 through the Smith School’s Fed Tech program, which links promising MBA students with cutting-edge technology from the U.S. federal lab system. After the program ended, King and Caicedo continued to develop PhareTech.
The partners explored a variety of applications during the early stages of the startup process. “The whole idea of slow bandwidth speeds and slow internet speeds is something that can be applied to so many different industries,” King said.
After listening to about 75 potential clients, King and Caicedo decided to focus on campuses where multiple buildings need to be connected. Examples include higher education facilities, military bases and other government complexes.
The duo plans to use the recognition and prize money from the American Association for the Advancement of Science to continue to move PhareTech forward in the business market.
— Julia Reed, Smith School communications writer