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Lehigh Students Display Entrepreneurial Projects at Demo Day

By Colin McEvoy on July 1, 2022

Held in-person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Lehigh University’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity, and Innovation hosted its 8th annual Hatchery Demo Day on June 30.

The event allowed 25 student entrepreneurs to showcase their venture projects after having spent five weeks of education and mentorship in the Hatchery, the Baker Institute’s full-time summer entrepreneurship immersion program.

“The Hatchery Student Idea Accelerator offers students from all backgrounds and majors at Lehigh an opportunity to engage in entrepreneurial thinking and doing through a full-time, immersive experience,” said Lisa Getzler, Executive Director of the Baker Institute.

“Learning to identify problems worth solving and address the needs of future customers, whether for commercial or not-for-profit use, these students have undertaken a journey toward creating real value in the world,” Getzler said. “They focused on the problem-to-opportunity-to-ideas-to-solution process with a group of likeminded students, coaches and alumni experts for six weeks during the summer.”

Demo Day was an open house-style held on June 30 at the Wilbur Powerhouse at Lehigh University, where students set up booths displaying their projects and ideas, while also discussing their work and answering questions for visitors and fellow students.

This Hatchery allows students to develop entrepreneurial solutions, test potential business ideas, and learn the foundational skills of entrepreneurship work on problems that matter. Participating students come from all different stages of an idea, from venture projects already generating income, to early prototypes, to those who have identified a problem they want to solve.

A total of 14 venture projects were developed by this year’s students. Working individually or in teams, students from various majors and colleges on campus tackled problems and developed solutions across a diverse set of industries, including technology, fashion, education, investment, housing, recreation, and food & beverage.

Among them was a project called Beer Belly Recycling that recycles leftover food waste into durable packaging. Another project, called Connect and Serve, developed an efficient way to connect emergency responders using their own cellular phones. Yet another called Switch Kicks developed a type of children’s shoe that expands as the child wearing it grows.

Tyler Richardson, a 19-year-old Lehigh University sophomore majoring in chemical engineering, was part of a team behind the project Mycroactive Microscope, which seeks to provide under-resourced public schools and science teachers with affordable microscopes.

Mycroactive Microscope was awarded the Demo Day’s People Choice Award based upon votes from visitors at the event.

The team developed a microscope outer shell that works in conjunction with a website full of test slides to make the microscope experience more interactive, as well as more affordable. Richardson said while most microscopes cost schools about $600 each, these could be sold for about $30.

“Coming into this program, I knew nothing about entrepreneurship or how to go about starting a business,” Richardson said. “They really take you through the process step-by-step and show you why what you’re doing really matters. It’s so much more than just developing prototypes; it’s reviewing ideas, and then working with mentors to see if it can go somewhere.”

Bhumika Mittal, a 20-year-old computer science and entrepreneurship major at Lehigh University, spoke about her team’s project, a partnership with the Global Impact Fund, which seeks to identify, track, and evaluate the social impact of companies and social ventures in which the Fund invests.

Mittal, an exchange student from India, said the project began with a design in a workshop, which led to work on prototypes and feedback from instructors at the Hatchery.

“It was fun and a lot of learning,” Mittal said. “It makes you think differently about the problem you are trying to address. It might be a complicated problem, but the Hatchery helps you break it down into smaller pieces and then begin thinking about ways to address it.”

Additionally, Brian Quispe and Sareena Karim, two members of Lehigh University’s Class of 2022 visited this year’s Hatchery Demo Day and demonstrated their startups, which they worked on during their time with the Baker Institute and are now running full-time.

Brian Quispe discussed his startup Ocutrap is a “smart” animal capture system that can target certain animals, reset and open a cage remotely and alert the user with the image of the animal captured. It previously won the grand prize at Baker’s annual pitch competition.

Karim discussed her venture Foli-Q, which provides personalized hair care products, including an advanced bioengineered hair testing service.She first pitched the idea at one of Baker’s EUREKA! Venture Program Pitch Night, and went on to launch her business in 2020.

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