Where Are They Now?

An Interview with Hawkeye Surgical Lighting, 2022’s InnoVenture Challenge Winner

As a reminder, Hawkeye Surgical Lighting has developed the world’s first voice- and motion-controlled surgical headlight – and they took home last year’s $100,000 grand prize at the first inaugural InnoVenture Challenge. Our Investment Director, Kaylee Williams, had a chance to catch up with the team at HSL this quarter to discuss the company’s progress, challenges they’re currently facing and to reminisce on that fateful evening last December.

Q: Hey guys. Thanks for making the time to sit down with me today. Let’s dig right in – now that the InnoVenture Challenge is behind you, can you talk a little bit about your experience at the event? Were you nervous? Excited? Both? What was it like to win the $100,000 grand prize?

We were really impressed with the event as a whole and had a very positive experience. Can’t speak highly enough about the judges and the event staff who were professional and supportive throughout the entire process. There were definitely some nerves going into our pitch. We knew we were presenting to a room full of talented and experienced individuals, all of whom were evaluating our project with a critical eye. But at the same time, we were also excited to share our company’s vision and to showcase the hard work of our team.

Being named a finalist at last year’s InnoVenture Challenge was a great accomplishment for us, and we were thrilled just to have the opportunity to pitch in Des Moines. Winning the $100,000 grand prize was an even greater honor and we are grateful to the judges and organizers of the InnoVenture Challenge for their support.

Q: How has the product itself evolved since last fall? What is on the product roadmap for the year ahead? Have you received feedback from beta-testers or prospective customers?

Since the competition we have further developed our first product [the first-generation headlight], improving our electronics package to increase functionality and reduce processing time to address early input. We plan to continue gathering feedback from beta testers and look forward to introducing our new product to the market.

Q: How has the $100,000 funding impacted your business development and growth? Have you spent the funds yet, and in what way(s)?

Yes! We have used a significant portion of the award to invest in our IP development and marketing initiatives. It has given us extra runway as we continue to drive the project forward.

Q: That’s great. Do you plan to raise more capital in the coming year(s)?

We continue to work in directions to bolster future capital raises but do not yet have any near-term plans.

Q: How can the community support you as you continue to build your company in the year ahead? What can we do to help you overcome the current challenges you may be facing?

The Iowa startup community has been incredibly supportive of our company thus far, and we are grateful for their help in developing our business. We saw many familiar faces at the InnoVenture Challenge who have played a role in our journey so far. The network of innovators and mentors in Iowa continues to impress us, and we look forward to continuing to collab

orate with and learn from this community as we tackle new challenges and pursue our goals.

Q: As the first InnoVenture Challenge winners, what advice would you give to this year’s Challenge applicants? To the finalists?

While there are many factors that go into a successful application, being able to tell a compelling story goes a long way. It’s important to present the problem you’re solving in a way that the judges and audience members can connect with, so they can better understand the business and why it will be successful. Believe in what you are doing.

To the finalists, have fun and be proud of your achievement in being chosen as a top applicant. It’s a great opportunity to showcase your project and meet other innovators in the community.

Learn more about Hawkeye Surgical Lighting and sign-up to help beta test their flagship product on their website.