2018 Eagle Works Winner Grows Successful Business
One of the best parts of going to college is being able to pursue your passions to
make them a reality. For former engineering student Téa Phillips, Tennessee Tech’s
Center for Rural Innovation’s annual Eagle Works competition provided her with the
necessary inspiration and opportunity to do just that. In 2018, Phillips, along with
fellow students Ashley Wheeler and Sergio Ramirez, received first place in the Innovation
and Entrepreneurship Eagle Works Competition for their proposed business Metaflex,
whose purpose is to create a new and cheaper treatment for arthritis and other hand
related health problems.
The early vision for Metaflex was born in 2017 when Wheeler and Ramirez traveled to Havana, Cuba and witnessed the major issues caused by arthritis, specifically in people’s hands. Though there are existing arthritis treatments and support, they are often outrageously expensive, even with insurance. For this reason, the students desired to formulate an affordable way to help alleviate discomfort and pain for those who suffer from arthritis.
Phillips was the mechanical engineer onboard with the responsibility to design and create the prototype. After hours of research and planning, the students developed a business proposal to enter the TN Tech Eagle Works competition. The first-place recipients are determined by their predicted level of impact and attainability; deservingly, Metaflex was the first-place winner for Eagle Works 2018. Phillips felt that winning first place helped others see the value of the group’s mission. In addition to earning a $6,000 prize for first place, the students won $500 for the Best Social Impact Award.
In her final year at Tech, Phillips would go directly from class to her home to help advance the company. She spent many hours refining the glove. Currently, Phillips has expanded her career and is working towards perfecting the glove as well as its target purpose. She is now a TN Tech alum working at Y-12 in Oak Ridge, but the glove is still one of Phillips’s main missions. The glove has been marketed for arthritis, but also for other purposes including helping sports players and other hand related diseases.
Currently, ATS (Ashley Téa Sergio) is looking to grow by hiring interns, along with funding assistance, since this is the biggest challenge for the company. ATS has been FDA certified and is being manufactured by FDA certified companies. The Metaflex glove is available for purchase through the ATS Innovations IndieGoGo: https://metaflexglove.com
For the success of future entrepreneurs, Phillips recommends finding good mentors. Phillips says, “You can find mentors by reaching out to the Innovation Center and meeting with people who have been in your shoes before.” Through the Innovation Center at Tech, Phillips met multiple professors and people in the community who encouraged her group and gave free information on things she hadn’t experienced before. Phillips encourages, “No matter your gender, push past the hardships, despite how frustrating or tiring they may be.”
Rural Reimagined encourages other students to participate in the Eagle Works Competition 2023 for a chance to receive funding to pursue potential entrepreneurial ideas and proposals. Phillips commends Rural Reimagined saying, “They know what they’re talking about. These people within the community want you to succeed and know what it takes.” Phillips continues, “Eagle Works is one of the main reasons why Metaflex is where it is today.” Phillips took the Eagle Works class beforehand and highly recommends it saying, “It’s going to help you a lot because the class gives lots of information about starting a business and helps students practice presenting along with many other opportunities.” Through this organization she was able to fund her research and create a prototype that would lead to her success.
If you are looking for an entrepreneurial growth opportunity, be sure to enroll in the next Eagle Works competition. To find more information about the 2023 Eagle Works competition, please visit: https://www.tntech.edu/innovation/eagleworks/index.php