Co-founder Aishwarya Das yesterday pitched the business to a panel of investor judges and a crowd of attendees at the Early Stage Symposium in Madison, an annual event held by the Wisconsin Technology Council. He and other competitors were given 90 seconds to make their case before being rated on the strength of their company and presentation.

“Imagine a world where you can pinpoint Earth’s underground natural resources without leaving a scar on the planet,” he said. “Current mineral exploration is like finding a needle in the haystack. It’s costly, ecologically damaging and has a less than 1% of success rate.”

The company is developing “quantum sensors” that can detect tiny changes in the planet’s gravitational field to find hidden deposits of valuable minerals. Its method is non-invasive and more precise than traditional ways of finding minerals, according to Das. And its sensors can be mounted to a drone, offering advantages over surveys done on the ground or from aircraft, he said.

“Our sensors can be used to find critical battery metals like lithium, nickel, copper, cobalt and precious metals and minerals like gold, silver and diamond,” he said, adding that lithium exploration efforts alone have risen 90% over the past year.

The business has previously raised funds from venture capital investors in India, and is now seeking $1.5 million for a pre-seed round of funding.

While Dirac Labs is initially targeting the mining industry, its technology could be used for a wide range of applications such as GPS-free navigation and finding water aquifers or hidden tunnels, Das said.

The second-place finalist in the Elevator Pitch Olympics was Sygmatic, a foreign language learning platform, while audience members picked Spectacle Health as their favorite. This startup has a platform to assist people with enrolling in Medicare plans.

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