Fall graduate develops app for EpiPen users

Kurz turns passions into businesses, majors in entrepreneurship



“Even if it does fail, I’m not going away empty-handed,” soon-to-be graduate David Kurz says as he reflects on his time as an undergraduate in the Carson College of Business on Thursday afternoon.

ANGELICA RELENTE, Evergreen editor-in-chief

An upcoming graduate with an entrepreneurial mindset seeks to enforce future use of an app for those with allergic reactions.

Entrepreneurship major David Kurz said he was always attracted to the idea of starting a business. Kurz said he was involved in an agricultural program in high school and had the task to raise lambs.

“The reason I raised lambs was not because they’re fluffy, but because at the end of it [I] bought a lamb for $200, put $50 worth of food into it and then sold it for $450 [with] a $200 profit,” Kurz said. “That’s really my business mindset coming in.”

He said he was also involved in a wedding videography business in high school and liked the concept of using his resources and skills to turn it into something for profit.

Kurz said he was told to pursue a landscape architect-related career, but he thought that being an entrepreneur was more his calling.

“With entrepreneurship, it’s kind of like, ‘Here’s the toolbox to take whatever passion you have and make it into your business,’ ” he said. “That’s the way I kind of see it.”

Aside from balancing 18 credits per semester along with extracurricular activities, Kurz said he is the founder of Epi-N, an app for epinephrine pen users that alerts 911 dispatchers and emergency contacts in case of an emergency.

“When you have a severe allergic reaction, three out of the five symptoms make it so that you can’t really call 911 or talk,” he said.

The app is not available yet, but he plans to release a beta version of it in the near future, Kurz said.

After downloading the app, he said it will inform the person with instructions on how to use it. There will also be a personal page containing the user’s pen information and the last time they used a pen.

Kurz said the home page will have a large, red button for the user to press and hold down to contact emergency resources.

He said he got the idea last October from his best friend who relies on epinephrine for allergies, cold urticaria and bee stings. Cold urticaria is when a person gets hives after being exposed to cold temperatures, he said.

A month later, Kurz said he pitched his idea at a business event in Spokane and continued to participate in events in Pullman and Seattle afterward.

He eventually thought Epi-N was worth investing in and incorporated seven students and four industry professional advisers into his team.

He said he initially planned to set minimal stepping stones for himself and his company but did not think he would get this far with his idea. Nevertheless, he valued the learning experience more than the concept of failure.

“You always have the fear that, ‘Hey, maybe this idea isn’t a good idea,’ ” Kurz said. “In the end, I kind of see it as a learning process … even if it does fail, I’m not going away empty-handed.”

He said he plans to work full-time on Epi-N after he graduates and thinks his business has a bright future ahead.

“Hopefully five years down the road, Epi-N is being sold to a big epinephrine company,” Kurz said. “[I’d] maybe take a year off then start another company.”