Azim Sonawalla ’12 ’13G drew upon his more than six years as an emergency medical technician to create his first product, the “Cool Talk Communicator,” which helps firefighters communicate more clearly while wearing protective masks.
The inaugural graduates of Lehigh University’s one-year master's degree in Technical Entrepreneurship share one thing in common: They already know where they’ll hang their 2013 diplomas—on the walls of their startups.
Just a year ago, Lehigh instituted the curriculum designed to provide the business world (from small business to the Fortune 500) with students who have demonstrated the entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and understanding of the finer points of launching a business, from commercializing intellectual property to developing new products. Students in the program learn by experiencing the idea-to-venture process in an educational environment that's hard-wired to support the development of novel, innovative and commercially-viable technologies.
Here are a few of the products under development or already available from Lehigh’s first graduates of the program. You could try to hire them. More likely, they’ll offer you a job.
Cool Talk Communicator
Azim Sonawalla ’12 ’13G drew upon his more than six years as an emergency medical technician working with a volunteer rescue squad when building Second Shift Innovations, a company that provides technology innovations for the public safety industry. His first product, the “Cool Talk Communicator,” helps firefighters communicate more clearly while wearing protective masks.
He and his company recently won the $17,500 grand prize at the 2013 EUREKA! Ventures Competition Series honoring outstanding student entrepreneurs. The prize includes office space at the Ben Franklin TechVentures business incubator on Lehigh's Mountaintop Campus.
In 2013, Azim and his device also won the “Best Idea Stage” award during a venture pitch competition in California’s Silicon Valley. Azim was a company mentor for two interdisciplinary teams of Lehigh undergraduates who worked with him on product development through Lehigh’s Integrated Product Development (IPD) program, in which they worked on developing a product to reduce back injuries in emergency responders.
Jessie Garcia earned a B.A. in global studies from Lehigh in 2012, minoring in women’s studies and entrepreneurship, before she entered the program. She’s since launched her company, Tozuda LLC, which develops sports safety technology. Influenced by her years playing rugby at Lehigh, her company’s first product is a low-tech mouth guard that changes color when an athlete gets hit too hard and should seek medical attention. In 2013, Jessie and her product won the “i” Prize for an outstanding idea, innovation or imagined solution, sponsored by Lehigh’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation. The $1,000 cash prize will help her continue to develop her company and products after graduation.
At Lehigh, Jessie also honed her entrepreneurship networks as a participant in the university’s LehighSiliconValley immersion program and was a panelist on “Creative Keys to Success” during Women’s Empowerment Week, speaking to young female students on the importance of innovation and leading a hands-on problem-solving and prototyping exercise.
Randi Tutelman ’12 ‘13G and Amy Mazius ’13 founded Eleanor Kalle–a jewelry and accessories line that combines vintage scarves with hardware store elements– as undergraduate design arts majors at Lehigh. The company sells jewelry at Bethlehem retail locations and trunk shows and will soon begin selling via its website. In 2012, the company won second place in the Joan F. and John M. Thalheimer '55 Student Entrepreneurship Competition in the EUREKA! Venture Series Competition. Both are headed to New York City to continue to develop the company and get their accessories line picked up by stores.
Katelyn Noderer ’09 ’13G spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine. Matthew Fuchs ’11 ’13G worked in the manufacturing industry. When they joined the program, they teamed up with classmate Adrian Velasquez ’12 ’13G, a fellow Lehigh grad and Venezuela native, to create their company: Venos, LLC, which connects people to their information through a mobile computer accessories product line and biofeedback devices. The company’s first product, the SideCar, is a patent-pending clip that securely attaches a tablet computer to a laptop to create dual-screen and multi-tasking capability.
The students brought their diverse experiences and academic disciplines (Katelyn: design arts and psychology; Matthew: mechanical engineering and aerospace; and Adrian: journalism and music) to developing the SideCar. A second-place winner in the Michael W. Levin ’87 Advanced Technology Competition in Lehigh’s EUREKA! Ventures Competition Series, Matthew also drew on his undergraduate experience in Lehigh’s honors Integrated Business and Engineering program. After graduation, Katelyn plans to pursue self-employment through Venos, Matthew will work for an engineering firm while continuing Venos product development and Adrian is creating a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the SideCar project.
The Next Class
In May, Lehigh welcomed 28 students to its Technical Entrepreneurship Class of 2014.
Building Aps in the Dorm
Chris Hall ’13 founded his company, ChallTech, from his dorm room while a freshman at Lehigh University. The company develops mobile applications with a specialization in rowing (Chris was a rower in high school and at Lehigh). The company has three apps available on Apple’s App Store and is working on a mobile app heart monitor for use in crew teams. Chris continued to develop, refine and test his apps through his undergraduate participation in Lehigh’s Integrated Product Development (IPD) program, in which he has been both a student and a company mentor. The bioengineering major gained first-hand insights from entrepreneurs and other investment and startup leaders through his involvement in the university’s entrepreneurship immersion programs in the innovation hubs of Silicon Valley, New York City and Boston.
In 2012, Chris won the university’s Leonard Pool Memorial Prize for students exhibiting entrepreneurial talents, the Michael W. Levin ’87 Advanced Technology Competition in the EUREKA! Ventures Competition Series hosted by Lehigh’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation and this year earned the Legacy Award. ChallTech has also achieved funding through the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Commercialization Initiative, Keystone Innovation Zone and National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance.
Video: http://is.gd/SLnhSF and http://is.gd/qXYeCm
Chris Kauzmann ’13, a mechanical engineering major minoring in entrepreneurship, has launched the South Bethlehem Housing Partnership. Born out of his Entrepreneurship for Nonprofits course with Professor Alan Jennings, the organization conducts community development through housing improvements and partnerships among universities, the city of Bethlehem, landlords, nonprofits and tenants. Chris won First Prize in the Social Venture Creation category of the 2013 EUREKA! Ventures Competition, winning $7,500 in cash and in-kind prizes to help him launch the venture. During his time at Lehigh, he has been actively involved in entrepreneurship, including participating in the university’s entrepreneurship immersion programs in the innovation hubs of Silicon Valley and Boston.
Video: http://is.gd/6lroKr and http://is.gd/YRYgRg