Lehigh’s TE Venture Fair
Translating theory to practice is the framework behind Lehigh University’s Technical Entrepreneurship Venture Fair, which features some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs the school has to offer.
The fair, held May 10 at the Wilbur Powerhouse, is the culmination of the university’s technical entrepreneurship program, which helps student entrepreneurs create, refine and commercialize intellectual property. It featured 20 students who had the chance to pitch eight judges on why their invention was truly an Einstein moment.
Among the presenters was Alex Doumith, a graduate student in the school’s technical entrepreneurship program. Doumith said a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s in engineering makes him a candidate to succeed in the fast-paced and challenging world of start-ups.
“Entrepreneurship has been my interest since I was young,” he said. “My experience in business goes back to my father and working in his successful family business, which provides technical services on the island of Antigua.”
Besides science, technology and business, Doumith said he is also passionate about sports and its ability to unite different people for a common cause. These interests and philosophies spurred his invention - a portable, chargeable device to track efficiency of athletic performance through his proposed company called Progression.
“How I got the idea is that a lot of people do running, track and field and walk,” he said. “This will let them know how many steps they took so they can track their performance.”
It could also be used to count the blows a boxer registers on a boxing speed bag. Doumith’s potential clients include B2B, fitness clubs and companies and consumers.
Graduate student Zhane Jackson’s proposed venture – called Luminae – offers a service providing hair strand testing for a consumer to cater to specific hair needs.
“A consumer will reach out to us and request a kit,” Jackson said. “Within this kit there will be four different test tubes. Consumers will then take portions of hair from their head, put it in the test tube kit and send it back to us.”
Jackson’s company would then analyze the hair in a laboratory, ascertaining the density, moisture and elasticity levels.
“From having these key factors, I can then create a customized product for them,” she said. “For example, I can say ‘your hair needs a lot of moisture, so I created this conditioner that has high moisture retention and is customized for you.’”
Her idea was generated by personal experience.
“I pretty much just got tired of buying so many products and wasting so much money on this trial-and-error system,” Jackson said. “I always told myself ‘there has to be something in place where I can know exactly what to buy to get it to do what I needed it to do.”’
Another student presented a product known as Groopa, which is a mobile application by Rachel Shields. Groopa creates an anonymous support group for parents of children with mental illness.
“I was diagnosed with OCD when I was 10 years old,” Shields explained as to how she got the idea for Groopa. “It was pretty severe. So my mom sort of quit her job and supported me full time.”
Had the app existed then, Shields said, her mother would have had more support, information and contacts.
“Right now I have a Twitter and Facebook page for it,” Shields said, when asked about marketing strategies. “I’m not like a marketing guru, so I’m looking at hiring a marketing person.”
In considering the app’s future, Shield said her main goal is “not really making a profit off this; it’s more providing what people need.”
Taking first place in the competition was graduate student Duheng “Hansen” Liang, who created a verbal “trigger” mouse so that chronic video game players will be more efficient and healthy.