March 5, 2018
By Aly Kuiken
In the world of entrepreneurship, resourcefulness and adaptability are two great traits to have when starting a business. Military veterans are transitioning more and more into the business world after service, as much of their training applies directly to the rapidly changing industry of entrepreneurship.
Enter: Thomas Cavett, U.S. Army Special Forces veteran, entrepreneur, student, and member of the Bunker Labs PHL 2018 Launch Lab Cohort. Thomas is the co-founder and CEO of POWTI Innovations, a biotechnology company that's changing how emergency providers respond to trauma.
From a young age, Cavett recalls always being adventurous. As a sophomore in high school, he spent a year studying abroad in Japan, where he became fluent in Japanese.
“[That experience was] the most foreign, unbelievable thing [compared] to so many people where I grew up in Mississippi. But that experience got me really interested in language and traveling and being in different parts of the world, learning about different cultures,” Cavett explained.
He went on to college at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., studying International Affairs and Japanese. After completing his undergraduate degree, Cavett decided to enlist in the U.S. Army Special Forces. After completing the required training program of nearly three years, he became a Green Beret and a medic.
In the Army, a Special Forces Medic is a unique role. These soldiers are specialized in multiple fields of medicine, from trauma to veterinary medicine to dentistry to surgery, and so on.
“We’re essentially supposed to be like a one-man hospital in the middle of nowhere,” Cavett said, “We work in places with little to no medical infrastructure, and are expected to provide the full continuum of care.”
While primarily stationed in Japan, he also spent some time in other countries including Thailand, South Korea, and the Philippines.
Cavett served on the Spurs Special Forces Group for a total of six years, working in both civilian and military hospitals to provide care for those affected by trauma. Additionally, he would train and go on missions with counter-terrorism military units and teach them the necessary medical skills to maintain the health of their unit, especially in times of combat.
After returning home, Cavett began pursuing his MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University at Pennsylvania, as well as a Master’s Degree in International Studies from the Lauder Institute, also at Penn. During the fall of 2016, he was approached by POWTI’s other co-founder and U.S. Navy veteran Frank Miller, who was looking for business insight to launch his idea.
Miller had created the Point of Wounding Trauma Indicator (POWTI), a detection device that pinpoints the user’s location and sends it to the nearest emergency responders. This helps to speed up the emergency response reaction time.
“Oftentimes with trauma in particular, the timing can be the most difficult factor. Sometimes you just can’t get there fast enough, and people lose their lives,” Cavett mentioned.
“When we started thinking about this product, there was a really obvious solution to us. The technology is not that incredibly advanced. We’re just taking from existing solutions and putting them together in a different way that hasn’t been done before. And hopefully we’re going to save some lives in the process; which is really the most important thing for us," Cavett said.
That's not all. Cavett has been the recipient of the Jacobson Venture Award for student entrepreneurship, and was the winner of both the Lauder Pitch-it competition, and the Pitch Distilled event sponsored by Jack Daniels Whiskey. POWTI is pilot testing later this year, and is looking to launch nationally in 2019. To learn more about the POWTI device & the company’s mission, click here.
"The mission-oriented mentality from my military training been really valuable to me as an entrepreneur," Cavett told us, "It makes me a very committed person to identify and go after a goal, even when it’s something that other people might see as crazy or risky or out of the ordinary.”