Jack Reynolds ’15, Edward Allegra ’16 and Miguel Quimbar ’17 came to SMU as strangers. Together, they founded a company that will change their lives and the lives of other asthma patients.
“I was hanging out in our apartment and Jack came in super excited,” recalls Allegra, who earned a degree in economics and biology. At a meeting of the SMU Entrepreneurship Club, Reynolds (finance, and markets and culture double major) and Quimbar (chemistry and accounting) had heard about a revolutionary idea: using extremely sensitive chemical luminescence to register visibly when the biomarkers in someone’s exhaled breaths indicate the person is likely to suffer an asthma attack – before they’re even aware of it.
The club’s faculty advisor and professor of practice in entrepreneurship Simon Mak learned about the potential technology at an SMU Research Day. “The next thing I knew,” says Allegra, “we were working six hours a day for four weeks to get ready for a business pitch competition. Prof. Mak spent at least five hours a day with us working on the business plan, the marketing and the financials. That made us feel what we were doing was valuable.”
After winning that competition and over the course of 12 more wins, the business partners – who named their company BioLum Sciences – refined their goal: to develop a mobile health device that allows users to better treat and manage their asthma symptoms.
“I didn’t want to just find a job,” says Reynolds. “I wanted to create something. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to make a change, and SMU opened the doors for me to do that.”
While achieving great success with their own business, the trio also led the SMU Entrepreneurship Club and helped triple the number of students involved.
“The most important thing I learned about being an entrepreneur at SMU is to ask for help,” says Quimbar. “The professors were more than willing to help, and we really grew from all of the help that we received from them and the people in the community.”
Allegra tells aspiring entrepreneurs, “SMU has a track record of successful graduates who change the world. You can take advantage of that and meet other success- and result-driven people who are looking to change the world in their own ways.”