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

Sep 12, 2022

Kennesaw State college students are taking what they study from college within the Robin and Doug Shore Entrepreneurship and Innovation Middle and funding from the Mookerji Innovation Fund to create tech and engineering tasks, develop software program concepts and launch companies
that remedy shopper issues.

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

“We’re seeing some thrilling and modern concepts from college students and alumni, and it’s making it potential for them to pursue their passions, turn out to be their very own bosses and finally turn out to be enterprise homeowners,” mentioned Greg Quinet, government director of the Middle. “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
expertise 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 obtainable to scholar and alumni
tasks 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 up to now have ranged from cutting-edge
expertise to shopper product improvement.

Coaching by taking part in

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

Brannan Vitek
Brannan Vitek

At Kennesaw State, Vitek (’20) studied recreation design and hoped to at some point work for a online game improvement firm, by no means considering gaming had a task to play in poultry vegetation. After taking Quinet’s Entrepreneurial Thoughts course in 2019, beginning a enterprise appeared so achievable that Vitek regarded for tactics he may flip his game-design ardour right into a enterprise.

Immediately, Vitek leads Apex Improvements, an organization that created a digital actuality recreation to introduce college students at Lanier Technical Faculty in Gainesville to the fundamentals of ammonia refrigeration system operation and upkeep, the sort used within the space’s poultry processing vegetation. College students study the fundamentals of the refrigeration methods 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 may do it with none debt, and the way to decide on a market.”

Vitek’s group initially obtained a $2,500 grant and up to now has obtained $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 throughout the seven-month improvement time of the ammonia recreation,” Vitek mentioned. 

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

Getting 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 faculty 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 scholar, and collectively they started engaged on a digital actuality online game. They acknowledged they’d a possibility to faucet into an rising market.

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

After receiving a grant from the Mookerji Innovation Fund, Feeser and Snowden introduced
on a group of contractors to shine the fundamental improvement 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 day by day lively customers. Feeser says the help from KSU’s entrepreneurship heart and the Mookerji fund made that potential.

“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 mission 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 obtainable tops for his Jeep Wrangler. In his opinion,
comfortable tops let in an excessive amount of exterior noise, whereas exhausting 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 Middle 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 assumed, ‘I’m going to run with this one and see the place it goes,’” Swales mentioned. 

Swales started creating a prototype Jeep high that will have a tough high exoskeleton with the comfort options of a comfortable high. Even higher, the highest’s removing will likely 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 amass mental property rights for his prototype design was welcome, he mentioned. 

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

Swales’ prototype continues to be in improvement, with a purpose to have it put in on his personal automobile this fall. Swales mentioned as soon as he’s pleased along with his prototype, he’ll look to increase manufacturing.

“Our entrepreneurship heart gives a spot for college students from all majors to develop their concepts whereas receiving help from college consultants and even funding of scholar tasks,” Quinet mentioned. “The entrepreneurship heart and KSU have created an surroundings that’s pushed to improvement, funding, and progress of high-potential ventures.”

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

Associated Tales

A frontrunner in modern instructing and studying, Kennesaw State College gives undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels to its practically 43,000 college students. With 11 faculties 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. faculties and universities with an R1 or R2 standing. For extra data, go to kennesaw.edu.