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BYU Engineering student entrepreneur becomes CEO of multi-million dollar company Owlet

BYU Chemical Engineering graduate Kurt Workman went from BYU student entrepreneur to multi-million dollar CEO in just a few years.

Photo courtesy Owlet

BYU Chemical Engineering graduate Kurt Workman went from BYU student entrepreneur to CEO of a multi-million dollar company in just a few years.

The Owlet co-founder and CEO started developing a product to keep infants safe and deliver peace of mind to parents while a student in BYU's College of Engineering.

Workman's wife Shea gave birth to their son while Workman was still a student at BYU. Worried their child might inherit Shea's heart condition, Workman realized there weren't devices on the market to measure an infant's heartrate and breathing in a non-invasive manner.

Workman took the need he saw for a simple, safe way for parents to monitor infants' heart rates and vitals and enlisted the help of fellow engineering classmates to create a "smart sock."

According to Inc.,

He didn't have the technical or medical skills necessary to design the Smart Sock, though, so he teamed up with his Brigham Young University classmates Zack Bomsta, Jordan Monroe, and Jake Colvin to build the hardware and develop the startup, which they called Owlet. The founding team also got help from BYU engineering interns, who were originally paid in pizza and are now staffers at the company.

Check out the full Inc. article on Workman's success in the booming baby tech industry.

The team initially pitched the idea at BYU's Miller Competition Series Big Idea Pitch competition. After the initial idea was well received, the team started entering as many competitions as they could.

The prototype referred to as the "Owlet Baby Monitor" was first debuted at BYU's annual Student Innovator of the Year competition in 2012. The team won the first place prize money and the "crowd favorite" prize money, kick starting Workman's efforts to create the now the multi-million dollar company Owlet.

Of the competition, Workman said:

SIOY was a pivotal point in momentum and validation for Owlet. It forced us to address the technical challenges early but also gave us a unique opportunity to get feedback. We owe a lot to our early success to the opportunities that stemmed from competing in the SIOY competition.

The annual competition, known around BYU campus as SIOY, offers grants to students to assist in the creation of a prototype that will compete for startup prize money. SIOY is sponsored by the College of Engineering and Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.

Learn more about BYU's Student Innovator of the Year competition here.

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Lilian Whitney



Release Date

January 2, 2019