February 13, 2024

LSU Swimmer Dives into Innovation with MediRail

LSU swimmer Mitch Mason won second place at J Terrell Brown Venture Challenge.
LSU swimmer Mitch Mason won second place at J Terrell Brown Venture Challenge.

By: SEC Staff
SECU (Twitter: @TheSECU)

Mitch Mason might have felt like a fish out of water getting into the sea of entrepreneurship.

The LSU swimmer headed to Baton Rouge as a mechanical engineering major with no real business experience. However, thanks to an engineering design assignment in high school, Mason had an idea that was primed for success.

Mason is one of the founders of MediRail, a tool that combines a medical backboard with an automated CPR device that helps reduce the time first responders spend prepping patients for transport. The clamp mechanism keeps the device from moving and allows paramedics to focus on securing the patient to the board and into the ambulance.

Tasked with creating a problem-solving product, Mason turned to his uncle, a fire and EMS captain who now serves as co-founder for the product.

“I asked him what he thought of a few ideas I had and what he experiences on the daily,” Mason said. “He was saying that every time they arrive on scene to someone with cardiac arrest it takes forever to move the patient into an ambulance and to a hospital while conducting CPR. I knew that was what I wanted to tackle.”

During the pandemic Mason and his dad were making mock drafts and prototypes out of plywood in the garage. “We didn’t think it would go anywhere, but we kept at it,” Mason said. “It was a way to stay absorbed in something positive during those uncertain times.”

As a part of a class project Mason, who is now a senior interdisciplinary studies major at LSU, was required to pitch a company for a class project. Mason seized the opportunity to showcase MediRail. His two-minute pitch video resulted in him being named a finalist for the J Terrell Brown Venture Challenge, an annual business plan pitch competition open to all on-campus students in the LSU system. The top three applicants are selected to pitch their ideas in front of live judges.

It was his first official pitch competition. The pressure to perform is nothing new for Mason, who is a two-time NCAA qualifier and member of the U.S. National Team.

“It was a different type of nervous,” Mason said. “I was excited to present what I had worked on for so long, something I kept under wraps. I knew it was a very good idea, and I knew I had something special.”

He was right. Mason took second place and earned $10,000.

Fahimeh Abbasi, program director of the Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute and instructor of entrepreneurship in the Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship and Information Systems at LSU, has been an asset for Mason by providing guidance and resources throughout his business journey.

“What sets Mitch apart is his unwavering professionalism and focused determination,” Abbasi said. “From the outset, he aimed to be a finalist, channeling his passion while maintaining composure and positivity. His ability to stay undistracted, coupled with a strategic mindset, is a testament to his athletic background.”

Mason’s commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation is full steam ahead and provides a mental outlet away from the pool. He explored what other businesses offer at an EMS conference in October and more pitch competitions could be in the future.

“Even when I’m taking other classes and need to work on the business plan or pitch, it doesn’t feel like something I’m dreading,” Mason said. “It’s an escape, a focus on something I’m passionate about.”