Student-run PATCH joins employers
by Jeremy Gerlach
This spring, Andrew Aertker ’21 walked out of a classroom and into a Students+Startups internship interview.
The Students+Startups program, now in its fourth year and funded by the 80/20 Foundation and run with Geekdom and Trinity University, typically gives students like Aertker the chance to intern for a startup in the middle of San Antonio’s exploding tech and startup scene.
But this isn’t a typical year for Students+Startups, and Aertker isn’t a typical student. He’s the co-founder of Trinity medical startup PATCH, along with fellow Tiger Gavin Buchanan ’20, and has built a smart pill bottle prototype that’s poised to revolutionize the clinical trial industry.
So, we should probably mention that Aertker was actually running his own interview, looking for a classmate to join the PATCH team, which this year joined 48 other hiring companies in Students+Startups.
“It’s a little odd, to be honest with you,” Aertker laughs. “You’re sitting at a ‘speed dating’ round of interviews, across from someone who was just in your computer science class.”
Aertker and Buchanan aren’t the first Trinity entrepreneurs to hire a Tiger, but they are the first undergraduates with a Students+Startups company who’ve been capable of hiring their own classmates.
“But it’s so beneficial, because there’s a mutual respect, interviewing your classmates,” Aertker adds. “They understand there have been so many great companies founded by young people, and they understand that you don’t have an ‘elitist’ mentality: Gavin and I may have more knowledge in this space than our interns, but we’re the same age, and we’re all working towards the same goal.”
That goal, in case you haven’t caught up with PATCH since they won $10,000 from Trinity Entrepreneurship’s Stumberg Venture Competition and were featured on NPR, is using a high-tech pill bottle that can link patients directly to their physicians.
“We’re looking for students who care about what we’re doing as a company, our mantra, ‘helping provide simplicity and efficiency to the medical industry,’” Aertker explains. “But we’re also looking for ambitious and motivated individuals.”
PATCH’s involvement in Students+Startups is the culmination of years of dedicated work from Aertker and Buchanan. But it’s also a vindication in the work of the 80/20 Foundation, Geekdom, and Trinity’s entrepreneurship program, which have all worked tirelessly to transform the Students+Startups initiative into a competitive program with national interest.
After about 60 students participated in Students+Startups in 2018, the program accepted more than 250 applications this year, and will end up matching about 80 students with 49 companies in 2019.
These companies include firms in engineering, coding and development, finance, accounting, data analysis, research and operations, marketing, communications and content, user experience and user interface design, and food science.
And the students aren’t just from Trinity: in addition to about 60 Tigers, the program has expanded to include other schools and universities across San Antonio and the nation. Columbia, Rice, Michigan, St. Louis, UT-Austin, UTSA, and St. Mary’s, among others, also have students interning through the program. These students represent a diverse group of majors.
For more detailed stats on the program, see the graphic below.