TCU VandV team

TCU Values and Ventures Team Brings Together Business, Science, Design, Sound and Communication

What do you get when five disciplines come together in one amazing TCU team? A business plan for an affordable hearing app that amplifies the power of purple.

April 01,  2019

By Elaine Cole

With the power of five TCU disciplines behind them, Maddie Kingsbury, Devan Peplow and Mavis Tang are guaranteed to impress judges in the 2019 Richards Barrentine Values and Ventures® Competition at TCU April 5-6. 

Kingsbury, Peplow and Tang won the internal competition to advance to the global one and represent TCU among 56 universities from around the world vying for more than $100,000 in total cash prizes. UPDATE: The TCU team won an impressive Third Place and $15,000 in the competition at TCU, April 5-6, 2019.

The team represents Sounde, a hearing app that allows people with hearing impairments to hear in real time. The app doesn’t simply amplify sound. Using a proprietary algorithm developed by Liran Ma, associate professor of computer science, the technology breaks apart sounds and then pieces them back together to produce a viable sound in less than 50 milliseconds. The app is targeted for people suffering from mild to moderate hearing loss as an affordable bridge or supplement to expensive hearing aids. 

The Sounde team brings together the Neeley School of Business (business strategy), College of Science and Engineering (proprietary technology), Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences (communication sciences and disorders) and College of Fine Arts (graphic design and sound recording and processing).  

The plan came together when Rodney D’Souza, Davis Family Entrepreneur-in-Residence and managing director of the TCU Neeley Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, heard about Ma’s technology, featured in TCU Magazine. D’Souza contacted Ma, who was happy to have business students develop a plan to commercialize the technology. The two professors worked out an agreement to give the team exclusive licensing of the technology for that purpose.  

D’Souza then interviewed a dozen TCU Neeley School of Business students for opportunity. 

“I was looking for fit, drive, vision, smarts and tenacity,” D’Souza said.  

He found it in Tang, Kingsbury and Peplow. 

Peplow, who suffers from partial hearing loss, is particularly interested to work on the project. 

“Hearing is so important to human connection,” said Peplow, an entrepreneurial management major and BNSF Neeley Leader. “Our team is trying our hardest to bring this affordable technology to the masses.” 

Kingsbury, a marketing major, believes the app has real potential. 

“With a really strong team and advisors in place, I feel confident that we have a viable and exciting business opportunity with a technology that can make hearing aids affordable,” she said. 

Tang, an entrepreneurial management major and BNSF Neeley Leader, echoed her teammates’ statements and is looking forward to representing TCU at the global Values and Ventures® Competition. 

“I am really grateful to be a part of this team and learn from all the amazing individuals who have helped us along the way,” she said. 

All three are seniors who will graduate in May 2019. 

TCU faculty working with the team include: Rodney D’Souza, Davis Family Entrepreneur-in-Residence and managing director or the TCU Neeley Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (Neeley School of Business); Liran Ma, associate professor of computer science (College of Science and Engineering); Christopher Watts, professor of communication sciences and disorders and director of the Davies School of Communication Sciences and Disorders (Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences); Brian Youngblood, associate director of bands (College of Fine Arts); and Jan Ballard, instructor of graphic design (College of Fine Arts). Kayce Patterson, TCU graphics design major, developed the logo.