SomaDetect Wins $1 Million In 43North Competition

By David Robinson
The Buffalo News, N.Y.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Bethany Deshpande and her company “SomaDetect” beat out 15 other startups to win the top prize in the daylong competition. Behind SomaDetect is a $2,000 device that attaches to the milking equipment used by dairy farmers. Its sensors screen the milk, allowing farmers to identify impurities or deficiencies in milk early on.

Buffalo

The first thing Bethany Deshpande did after her company — Canadian dairy processing product maker SomaDetect — won the $1 million grand prize in the 43North business plan competition Thursday night was call her father.

After all, it was her father’s patented invention, which uses light-scattering technology to help dairy farmers detect impurities in their milk or sickness in their cows, that is the backbone of SomaDetect’s fledgling business.

“He was excited,” Deshpande said after speaking with her father, Satish, minutes after SomaDetect beat out 15 other startups to win top prize in the daylong competition.

Minutes before, Deshpande, her voice cracking with emotion, stood on the Shea’s Performing Arts Center stage and publicly thanked her father.

“He’s always supported me,” she said.

And it was SomaDetect, with Deshpande as CEO, that 43North’s judges decided merited the most financial support from the $5 million business plan contest.

“They were so buttoned up. The way they articulated the value proposition of why it was good for people, why it was good for cows,” said one of the contest’s judges, David Jakubowski, director of publisher solutions at Facebook. “She has the potential to be the biggest CEO in dairy.”

Behind SomaDetect is a $2,000 device that attaches to the milking equipment used by dairy farmers. Its sensors screen the milk, allowing farmers to identify impurities or deficiencies in the milk early on — which can be a sign that a cow is fighting an illness. The early warning allows them to take steps to keep a problem from spreading, or figure out how to solve it immediately, rather than relying on periodic lab tests that usually are done every few weeks.

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