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AROUND AGGIELAND

‘Aggie Shark Tank’ investors bite

ANDRÉS LEIGHTON

Winning project designed to help children with ADD

It took less than five minutes for computer scientist Rajaa Shindi ’05 ’14 to catch the attention of a panel of “Shark” investors. She was taking part in New Mexico State University’s first public “Aggie Shark Tank,” based on the popular television series in which aspiring entrepreneurs present their ideas to a panel of business experts for feedback and potential investment. Shindi is a systems administrator in the Department of Institutional Analysis at Doña Ana Community College who also teaches computer science and information technology courses there. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from NMSU, and is a member of Studio G, NMSU’s student business accelerator. She had only a few minutes to explain her BrainSTEM software system, which uses brain interactivity training to treat attention disorders in elementary school children, but Shindi quickly made a connection with Sisbarro Dealerships owner Lou Sisbarro, whose son struggled with attention deficit disorder throughout school. “He suffered through it, and I know what parents suffer through,” Sisbarro says. “I think this BrainSTEM technology is going to help more people than anything here. It may not be the biggest moneymaker, but I think it’s going to be a big help. It’s a wonderful humanitarian project.” Sisbarro and agribusiness leader Dino Cervantes jumped at the opportunity to partner on the $30,000 investment Shindi sought in exchange for 20 percent equity in her company. “I truly believe in my idea, but when they told me that they believe in what I’m saying, it was a dream come true,” Shindi says. “Five minutes is a short time, and it was a challenge, but it was a great opportunity to share this idea with the community.” The audience connected with Shindi’s dream, as well – she was selected by vote as the audience favorite as well as the Sharks’ favorite, earning her an additional $3,500 in prize money. She’s now using the investment to continue product development with Arrowhead Center – NMSU’s technology commercialization hub – and the M-TEC center at the College of Engineering, as well as taking steps to ensure the protection of her intellectual property. The current school of Las Cruces “Sharks” includes Sisbarro and Cervantes, as well as real estate developer Mickey Clute and Mesilla Valley Transportation owner Royal Jones. Jones invested in another business pitch at the event, and all of the sharks continue to provide mentoring and feedback to the participants. Amanda Bradford ’03 For information about upcoming Aggie Shark Tank events, visit sharktank.nmsu.edu. Rajaa Shindi explains her BrainSTEM software system, which uses brain interactivity training to treat attention disorders in elementary school children, during the “Aggie Shark Tank” event in October.

8 Panorama | New Mexico State University | Spring 2016

Panorama - Spring 2016  

Panorama is NMSU's Alumni and Friends magazine. To read the current issue, visit https://panorama.nmsu.edu. To view the Fall 2016 issue as a...

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