Founder Friday: RecoverX's Alex Aguiar
Welcome to Founder Friday, where we learn about the people behind the Highway1 startups.
Today we talk to RecoverX co-founder and CEO Alex Aguiar.
HWY1: Tell us a little about your background.
AA: I studied neurobiology, physiology, and behavior at UC Davis with a double minor in psychology and technology management. I also played Division 1 soccer at UC Davis, and was a three-time team captain. As I neared graduation, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I took an extra quarter and spent the summer studying marketing and consumer behavior at the London School of Economics before returning to Davis to become assistant director of sports medicine and play professional indoor soccer. I just finished up at the Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy in June.
Where did the idea for this business come from?
Like many great ideas, it arose out of a personal need. About a year and a half ago, I was playing against Stanford and got a high ankle sprain. After the game, they just gave me a bag of ice and put it on my ankle. I was sitting there on the bus with a bag of melting ice, thinking “Is there a more portable solution here?” When I got home that day, I did a lot of research and couldn’t really find anything. The next day, my ankle still hurt, so I was sitting in class with a bag of ice melting onto the backpack of the girl next to me: awkward. So I started really looking into how to make a better, less messy solution, and after months of work I figured out the best way to tackle this problem.
How did you find out about Highway1?
I added my co-founder Dan Evans in December, and after a couple months’ work, we knew we wanted to be part of an incubator or accelerator — I call them the grad program for startups. I did some research online to find the best hardware accelerator; since software accelerators exist, there had to be a hardware one, right? Highway1 was at the top of a bunch of lists I found, so I looked around to see what I could find out about their cohorts and philosophy. Dan and I became determined to get in; we knew it’d help with product development and move our company forward so much more than trying to do it by ourselves.
What’s your biggest surprise or key learning been thus far at Highway1?
It’s definitely been a wakeup call for me in terms of business development. I thought that with my tech management minor and the Entrepreneurship Academy, I’d know a lot. I’m the youngest one here, having just turned 24 — and there’s a bunch of great CEOs here who’ve started companies and sold them, or who’ve worked at Google X for a long time. They know so much that I need to absorb, so at every office hour I’ve been picking the brains of Brady and Kaethe and the mentors and everyone around me.
What are your goals while you’re at Highway1?
Our goal for the end of Highway1 is to have a works-like/looks-like prototype. We’re going to be settling on an industrial design partner soon, and from there we’ll be able to get the looks-like part while we’re working on the works-like part. At the end, we’re hoping to have that model and be able to build 20 of them for alpha testing; rather than me just having you try our product for a short while, we can send it to you for a week and have you use it for a lengthy amount of time. That helps our development and user testing so much more than just the feedback we’d get from someone trying it on for a couple minutes.