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  • Noah Hill

Happy New Years! A Recap of UCHU's 2019

Happy New Years from the UCHU Biosensors team! 2019 sure was a great, crazy year, full of new friends, new experiences, and unforgettable memories. Dan and I just got back from our winter breaks spent spent celebrating the holidays with friends and family, and are ready to make 2020 even more memorable. However, as 2020 is just kicking off, we wanted to look back on everything that happened over the past twelve months.

In 2019 alone we traveled to 9 states and 4 countries, had 4 different living situations, worked in 4 different office spaces, gave more than 200 pitches, filed our first patent, and raised over $500,000. Our website was viewed by more than 3000 people in 71 countries, and our blog received more than 900 views. We grew our team from 3 co-founders to 4 core members with a board of 8 vested advisers, and received support from more than 10 consultants. Along the way we also had help from numerous mentors and made a countless number of friends.

Beyond just the numbers, 2019 was full of important decisions and big life changes for the UCHU team. Saam graduated with his D.M.D. from Tufts University of Dental Medicine, and began studying orthodontics and facial orthopedics at the University of Connecticut. Dan rejected acceptances at UC Berkeley, Columbia, Cornell, and other top graduate schools to continue his full-time commitment to UCHU. I finished my junior year at the Tufts University School of Engineering, but stepped back from my senior year to move to Shenzhen, China with Dan to join the HAX accelerator.

Thinking back, it's hard to believe so many things could fit into just one year. We're extremely thankful for all the help from friends, family, mentors, advisers, and everyone who has supported us throughout the year. We definitely could not have accomplished so much by ourselves. Lets dive into some of our favorite pictures from 2019 to celebrate such an incredible year!

When 2019 started, Dan was working full time and I was was still in my junior year at Tufts taking a full engineering course load, while Saam was studying at the Tufts University of Dental Medicine. We had a wet lab desk and office space at Tufts Launchpad Biolabs in Boston, right next to Tufts Medical and Dental schools, where Dan worked and conducted all of our experiments. I would come down to help on weekends and some nights during the week, depending on my school schedule. We spent the first several months of the year traveling around the Northeast quite a bit, touring tons of engineering design firms and product testing houses. We visited Cambridge Consultants, Synectic Product Development, Intertek, Toxikon, and various others.

We also spent this part of the year finishing our first fully functional proof of concept prototype sensor, a wearable mouth guard which could sense pH and transmit data to a smartphone application. Once this was done, we started our first formal fundraising campaign, our pre-seed round. While our company had been primarily focused on engineering since our inception, shifting focus to business development and fundraising was a new transition we had never done before.

As we continued our fundraising goals into the summer, we started to do some more traveling to meet new people and spread the word about our progress. We attended our first large dental conferences, the Yankee Dental Conference in Boston and the International Association for Dental Research in Vancouver, Canada, and visited the USPTO in Washington D.C. for a conference hosted by the FDA. We visited our friends at GC America for the grand opening of their new headquarters facilities in Chicago, and Dan made his first trip to Japan with the Japanese External Trade and Research Organization.

We also changed office spaces, and moved into Industry Labs in Cambridge, MA. Industry Labs was also a co-working space, similar to Tufts Launchpad Biolabs, and was a great experience as we met tons of exciting startups and awesome people. During the start of the summer, following our move, we went through formal investment diligence with more than 10 different angel firms, discussed investment potential with Colgate, Invisalign, and Dentaquest, and pitched to tons of local individual angel investors. We also applied to many accelerators and startup competitions, one of them being the HAX accelerator.

The summer was almost over, and we were in the final stages of diligence with HAX to find out if we would be accepted or not. With just two weeks left of summer, we got the news that we had been accepted and had to quickly prepare for the temporary move to Shenzhen, China. Dan and I got Chinese visa's as quickly as possible and booked flights to arrive in Shenzhen at the start of September. We packed up our stuff from where we were living in Boston, I let Tufts know I would not be attending my senior year, and we headed off to Shenzhen! Saam also found out he was accepted to the orthodontics program at the University of Connecticut, one of the most prestigious orthodontics programs in the country, so he moved up north at the same time we left for Shenzhen.

Immediately after arriving at HAX, we knew it was one of the best things that could have happened for UCHU. We were welcomed right away by the awesome staff and engineers in the HAX office, and met tons of great people and startups who were also working as part of the HAX accelerator. We quickly made many friends, and have since been having an incredible team working and going on adventures around China. We've visited Hong Kong many times, traveled across the local region, and Dan was even able to spend a weekend with his cousin in northern China. We've made some huge technical progress in even just the relatively short time we have been here already as well, and the decision to move to Shenzhen was all around the absolute right decision to make.

Then, while still in China, we made our second company trip to Japan as part of a formal delegation to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Kyoto and Boston being sister cities. We visited both Tokyo and Kyoto, spending just about one week in total exploring Japan. When we came back from Japan, we moved into another new office space as the entirety of HAX moved into a larger building. We celebrated Halloween and Thanksgiving here in Shenzhen, and continued to explore more parts of China.

We ended 2019 by going on a winter vacation to relax and spend time with family and friends. Dan's family came to visit here in China, and they went to Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Hefei, Shanghai, Guilin, and Yongshou. I traveled home to Washington State to spend time with my family and celebrate the holidays. After such a productive, crazy year, a nice relaxing break was definitely much needed by both of us.

Now Dan and I just got back to Shenzhen from our breaks, and are feeling super motivated to make this year even better than 2019. Already on the radar for 2019 are Chinese New Years celebrations, a business trip to Leek and Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and a brand new website with a complete company brand change.

Thank you from the entire UCHU Biosensors team for helping make 2019 such an incredible year, and keep an eye out for the next blog post!

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