How This Lauder Vet Is Working to Create Life-Saving Devices for the Military

After more than six years as a Special Forces medical sergeant, Thomas Cavett, WG’18, G’18, decided to return to school. He is using his experiences and his time at Wharton to launch POWTI, the world’s first automated standalone traumatic injury detection device.

Since arriving at Wharton, Lauder student Thomas Cavett, WG’18, G’18, has clinched the Jacobson Venture Award, a $10,000 cash award that supports a student’s entrepreneurial ambitions. He was also the winner of the Lauder Pitch-It competition at the Global Alumni event in New York City last fall.

The Lauder Pitch-It competition was Thomas’s first business pitch, and he attributes his win to his military experience and Wharton classes.

“Part of it comes from the military-style briefing. You have to be really confident and sure of yourself because if you’re not, you won’t be able to go on the mission,” he said. “That probably helped but figuring out what the judges were going to ask and how to best present financial models were really beneficial from my classes.”

A Story He Was Ready to Tell

In his pitch, Thomas focused on the pain points of his story, which he found easy to tell.

“There are thousands of people who die from traumatic injuries and a lot of them are preventable. Because of our backgrounds, that’s something that is real to us,” he said. “So telling that story speaks to people quickly. People understand that this is not just trying to make money. We’re also trying to save lives.”

The pioneering life-saving device behind his winning pitch and entrepreneurial journey is the POWTI, an acronym for Point Of Wounding Trauma Indicator, which will be installed into personal protective equipment. In the event of a traumatic event, the wearer’s location will be instantly transmitted via cellular GSM and GPS to emergency rescue personnel. This allows for rapid emergency response and consequently, faster arrival to definitive medical care.

Thomas and his team are preparing POWTI for a nation-wide launch next year and early trials on the device have begun. While his co-founder, also a veteran, focuses on product design, Thomas is in charge of the business development.

From gaining acceptance into the Patriot Boot Camp to securing a $25,000 investment from NextFab Hardware Accelerator, Thomas has seen success in paving POWTI’s launch. In many ways, his involvement in Wharton has contributed to this progress.

One of these ways is through the Venture Initiation Program Community (VIP-C), a Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship initiative. As a member of VIP-C, Thomas has benefited from being among like-minded entrepreneurs.

“The most valuable thing about VIP-C is that these start-up founders are meeting together all the time and helping one another through similar challenges,” he said. “That has honestly been the biggest resource.”

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