Hatchery Students Pursue Entrepreneurial Ventures in All-Virtual Summer Program

By Colin McEvoy on July 2, 2021

The students who participated in this year’s Hatchery program, which is hosted by Lehigh University’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity & Innovation. (images from Hatchery website)

Students participating in the Hatchery, a full-time summer entrepreneurial program, worked individually and in teams to solve identified problems through innovative ventures. They researched, prototyped, and tested their ideas over six weeks, receiving guidance from teachers and mentors.

And they did it all without ever being in the same room together.

For the second consecutive year, Lehigh University’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity & Innovation was forced to host The Hatchery virtually due to COVID-19, with all participants communicating remotely. But that didn’t stop the “Hatchlings” from pursuing their work, which was on display at a virtual Demo Day event on July 1.

“Their resilience and their tenacity has paid off today,” said Lisa Getzler, Baker’s executive director. “There were some rough days, some rough weeks, but we’ve had an excellent Hatchery season and are very excited to share the outcomes today at Demo Day.”

Twenty-five students participated in the Hatchery, coming from a wide variety of disciplines and education levels, from rising sophomores to doctoral-level students, according to Chris Kauzmann, Innovator-in-Residence at Lehigh University.

Since its beginnings as LaunchBayC in 2014, before becoming The Hatchery in 2018, the summer student idea accelerator has guided students through the idea-to-launch process. The students work in one of three tracks: creativity (identifying a problem to solve), innovation (designing a solution to a previously identified problem), and entrepreneurship (developing more advanced entrepreneurial ideas).

“The Hatchery has transformed the way I think,” said Alex Silber, a rising sophomore studying mechanical engineering at Lehigh University.

“As someone whose dream is to be an engineer, and someone who solves problems, it is essential to be able to think in a creative way; to look at a problem, and see multiple avenues that you are willing to go down and not be afraid to fail,” Silber said. “The Hatchery has taught me all of these attributes, and I can’t imagine another program or class at this school that would allow me to do so at the age of 19 years old.”

The 25 student participants this year worked on 14 venture projects with nine guest experts, four volunteer professional service providers, and six venture project coaches, Getzler said.

Several students presented their venture projects via Zoom on Demo Day, after which audience members voted on which were “Most Likely to Succeed,” and were provided the opportunity to speak directly to students in breakout virtual chat rooms.

Two projects were voted Most Likely to Succeed this year: Millennial Consulting Services, founded by Kendra O’Donnell (’22G), and Solaria, by co-founders Nicholas Wilson (‘22), Stephon Bland (‘23), and Jake Logan (‘23).

Solaria is a startup that seeks to provide defense against the malaria disease, reimagining the current model of charity-based malaria relief through ultra-affordable mosquito defense products and innovative solar energy programs.

“We set about this venture project in the most practical way possible, by doing some very basic research to understand it on a level we felt was necessary, gaining knowledge we didn’t previously have,” Wilson said. “After getting to know the problem, we looked at solutions.”

Millennial Consulting Services combines communications technology, operations management, and human behavior research to provide small- to medium-sized businesses management policies to attract and retain top talent in the post-COVID world, in which Millennial and Generation Z employees increasingly want work-from-home options.

O’Donnell already obtained her first client during her work at the Hatchery. While speaking with a small business owner about his challenges, she offered to assist him with an employee survey, with plans to later expand their partnership when her startup is further developed. 

“It’s very exciting, and it’s validating,” Getzler said to O’Donnell during Demo Day. “You’ll learn from this; he may become your first beta tester. There are so many different paths that may occur as a result of that connection.”

Visit here to learn about other projects featured in this year’s Hatchery season.

July 2021 Issue of LVStartup Has Been Released

The July 2021 issue of LVstartup, a monthly e-newsletter about entrepreneurs and startups in the Lehigh Valley, has been released. Click here to see the new issue, and [...]

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