UMKC Student Entrepreneurs Place at UM System Pitch Competition

Placing second gives Air Traffic Awareness a boost
Tonderai Kamabarami, Merwan Abdelmajeed and Cameron Knight placed second in the UM System Entrepreneur Quest Pitch Competition

University of Missouri-Kansas City students Tonderai Kamabarami, Merwan Abdelmajeed and Cameron Knight placed second in the UM System Entrepreneur Quest Pitch Competition April 5. Placing second in the pitch competition also gave the project, Air Traffic Awareness, a $10,000 boost.

“This award means a lot to us, we were very excited to come in second, especially considering all the talented teams we were up against,” Kamabarami said. “It really was an honor to be recognized. We had built our first hardware prototype before the competition, so we really want to continue investing money into future prototypes as well as testing.”

Air Traffic Awareness is dedicated to providing portable solutions to improving aircraft safety for pilots utilizing the newest available technology. Taking advantage of cutting-edge radio technology available in all aircraft, the team has developed a custom-built mobile device and an application to detect potential aircraft collisions in real-time without the need for GPS or internet connections.

Team members are all professional software developers with more than 15 years of professional experience combined, and have a long-standing passion and dedication to the aircraft industry. One of the founders is a pilot who steered the team toward this project.

“We are dead set on improving the safety of personal and private pilots with our Air Traffic Awareness solutions,” Kamabarami said. “Our goal is to revolutionize the information available to pilots through portable devices and applications, by using the new required radio technology, improving safety and allowing the pilot to make smarter decisions in flight.”

Kamabarami said they first participated in a UMKC competition on March 3 where they placed third and received $5,000. The team also participated in the EQ Student Accelerator Program that was offered to them after the first round of the UMKC competition. The accelerator class was also open to students outside of the competition if they elected to take it. The final step was the UM System EQ Pitch Competition April 5.

Participating in the UM System program provided the team with numerous resources, ranging from mentors to faculty. Kamabarami said they also learned from watching other ventures pitch. Doing so helped them refine their message.

“There is no ‘how to’ guide to a start-up, so seeing all these talented teams at different stages of their company has really been eye opening, and by far the most helpful thing I have personally gained from this competition,” Kamabarami said.

Air Traffic Awareness was one of 12 teams, three from UMKC, that competed in the final day of the UM System EQ Pitch Competition. The other UMKC teams were DeepLens and Family Partner Solutions.

The UM System EQ competition was the first pitch type competition Kamabarami and his team have participated in while students at UMKC. But they plan to do more, including the Regnier Venture Creation Challenge on May 2.

“We can’t say no to another opportunity to gain exposure and potential capital!”

Published: Apr 18, 2019

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