Kennesaw State entrepreneurship heart funds high-tech pupil start-ups

KENNESAW, Ga. | Sep 12,

Kennesaw State college students are taking what they be taught from college within the Robin and Doug Shore Entrepreneurship and Innovation Heart and funding from the Mookerji Innovation Fund to create tech and engineering initiatives, develop software program concepts and launch companies
that clear up shopper issues.

The Shores, who’re longtime KSU supporters, established the entrepreneurship heart
within the Michael J. Coles School of Enterprise with a significant present in 2016. Since then, the couple and heart college have continued
to work to develop its scope.

“We’re seeing some thrilling and modern concepts from college students and alumni, and it’s making it doable for them to pursue their passions, change into their very own bosses and in the end change into enterprise house owners,” mentioned Greg Quinet, government director of the Heart. “What’s thrilling is that these concepts will not be simply coming from our enterprise and entrepreneurship college students.”

With assist from the Mookerji Innovation Fund, an incubator funded by donations from
know-how entrepreneurs Sid and Sophie Mookerji to bolster the work of the entrepreneurship
heart and its college, college students can purchase capital, contract work or different early-stage
enterprise must get their start-ups off the bottom. The Mookerjis established the fund in 2020 and lately contributed $600,000 to make extra grants out there to pupil and alumni
initiatives within the coming years.

College students and up to date graduates can apply for grants from the Mookerji Innovation Fund
for his or her start-up enterprise or product thought in quantities starting from $5,000 to $20,000.
The companies began by college students and alums to this point have ranged from cutting-edge
know-how to shopper product growth.

Coaching by enjoying

Brannan Vitek grew up in Gainesville, Ga., generally known as the “Poultry Capital of the World.” Meatpacking is the key business there, but it surely wasn’t one thing he had an curiosity in.

Brannan Vitek

At Kennesaw State, Vitek (’20) studied recreation design and hoped to in the future work for a online game growth firm, by no means pondering gaming had a job to play in poultry crops. After taking Quinet’s Entrepreneurial Thoughts course in 2019, beginning a enterprise appeared so achievable that Vitek regarded for methods he might flip his game-design ardour right into a enterprise.

At present, Vitek leads Apex Improvements, an organization that created a digital actuality recreation to introduce college students at Lanier Technical School in Gainesville to the fundamentals of ammonia refrigeration system operation and upkeep, the sort used within the space’s poultry processing crops. College students be taught the fundamentals of the refrigeration techniques just about by the sport earlier than they advance into hands-on coaching with working fashions.

“The Entrepreneurial Thoughts course modified my path from solely a programmer to an entrepreneur,” Vitek mentioned. “The category broke down the method for beginning a enterprise and confirmed me how I might do it with none debt, and the way to decide on a market.”

Vitek’s crew initially acquired a $2,500 grant and so far has acquired $7,500 in startup funding.

“The Mookerji grant went to software program licenses and paychecks. We had purchased our digital actuality headsets and began programming beforehand, so having the extra money was a lift to our peace of thoughts in the course of the seven-month growth time of the ammonia recreation,” Vitek mentioned.

Along with its contract with Lanier Technical School for refrigeration coaching,
Vitek mentioned his crew can also be creating digital actuality hazardous supplies coaching,
forklift and heavy equipment coaching for the school.

Coming into a rising market

Sean Feeser, a 2020 KSU graduate, had an identical expertise to Vitek in his entrepreneurship journey. Feeser mentioned he anticipated to land a programming job after college with no plans to run his personal enterprise.

Vertical Shift

Throughout an entrepreneurship course with Quinet, Feeser met Ben Snowden (’21), a fellow recreation design pupil, and collectively they started engaged on a digital actuality online game. They acknowledged that they had a chance to faucet into an rising market.

“We have been already enjoying with digital actuality whereas we have been in class, so it appeared like a pure match,” Feeser mentioned. “If you search for VR video games, you don’t have practically as many to select from as you do for different kinds of video games and consoles.”

After receiving a grant from the Mookerji Innovation Fund, Feeser and Snowden introduced
on a crew of contractors to shine the fundamental growth of their recreation, Vertical Shift.
Within the recreation, gamers fly by dense cityscapes on perilous missions.

Since its first launch in the summertime of 2021, Vertical Shift has grown from 20,000 downloads and a mean of round 5 gamers at any level in a day to 160,000 downloads and about 3,700 every day energetic customers. Feeser says the help from KSU’s entrepreneurship heart and the Mookerji fund made that doable.

“Mookerji was spectacular in supporting us very early on,” Feeser mentioned. “With the assistance of the grant, we have been in a position to take one thing that began as a university challenge and switch it right into a full-fledged skilled product.”

Frustration sparked innovation

Brighton Swales, a mechatronics engineering main who expects to graduate in Spring
2023, was pissed off with the out there tops for his Jeep Wrangler. In his opinion,
mushy tops let in an excessive amount of exterior noise, whereas arduous tops take an excessive amount of time to place
on and take off. So, he determined to create a hybrid high he says solves each issues.

Brighton Swales
Brighton Swales

Swales, who enrolled at KSU after eight years within the U.S. Navy, with help from
the Shore Entrepreneurship and Innovation Heart and the Mookerji Innovation Fund,
created an organization known as Swales Innovation to develop and market his invention.

“I’ve had a bunch of concepts all through my life, however I believed, ‘I’m going to run with this one and see the place it goes,’” Swales mentioned.

Swales started creating a prototype Jeep high that might have a tough high exoskeleton with the comfort options of a mushy high. Even higher, the highest’s removing will probably be automated, he mentioned.

Creating that prototype has taken greater than two years and is anticipated to value round $100,000, and Swales mentioned he’s already put about $30,000 of his personal cash into the work. So, the information that he’d obtain $5,000 from the Mookerji Innovation Fund to accumulate mental property rights for his prototype design was welcome, he mentioned.

“The Mookerji fund and Shore Entrepreneurship and Innovation Heart are a number of the finest packages that I’ve heard of for college entrepreneurs,” he mentioned. “The suggestions and steerage I’ve acquired have helped me deal with unanticipated points and provides me sound recommendation for assets to make use of. Plus, I can inform how invested in my success the advisors are.”

Swales’ prototype continues to be in growth, with a objective to have it put in on his personal automobile this fall. Swales mentioned as soon as he’s completely satisfied together with his prototype, he’ll look to develop manufacturing.

“Our entrepreneurship heart provides a spot for college kids from all majors to develop their concepts whereas receiving help from college consultants and even funding of pupil initiatives,” Quinet mentioned. “The entrepreneurship heart and KSU have created an setting that’s pushed to growth, funding, and progress of high-potential ventures.”

– Thomas Hartwell
Photographs by Matt Yung, David Caselli, submitted

Associated Tales

A pacesetter in modern educating and studying, Kennesaw State College provides undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels to its practically 43,000 college students. With 11 schools on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the College System of Georgia. The college’s vibrant campus tradition, numerous inhabitants, sturdy world ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw college students from all through the nation and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral analysis establishment (R2), putting it amongst an elite group of solely 6 p.c of U.S. schools and universities with an R1 or R2 standing. For extra info, go to kennesaw.edu.

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