Over the summer of 2015, I worked as a Product Development Fellow at Launchbay C creating The Sensay, a product to scientifically determine expiration of meat products as a food safety and food waste minimization tool, developing a product from the ground up and a business plan to launch it. This was an incredible experience to get hands-on, taking an idea from a thought to a tangible product, and inspired me to pursue entrepreneurial ventures in class and outside.
My partner, Brianna Riggs (Class of 2018, Marketing, Finance), and I came up with the idea for the product after she had suffered from a case of food poisoning and started thinking of a definitive way to identify unsafe foods to eat. After looking into several approaches, our final product was based around an ergonomic 3D printed appliance housing a colometric polymer that changes color when it interacts with compounds that are created when meat products rot. We focused on meat products since they are food products that are the most dangerous to eat when they are not fresh.
Development was a real challenge, especially as two business school students with no experience in 3D design, CAD, or materials science — all of which were key to creating our final deliverable. We taught ourselves Solidworks and learned how to use Ulitmaker 3D printers from our mentors to create a tangible 3D printed housing for the testing element. We also couldn’t have created our final prototype without Professor Jedlicka in Materials Science who helped us develop and finally create a polymer that would react and clearly show indicate when a meat product was unsafe to eat, walking us through its creation in her lab. We cannot thank our mentors enough.
As part of the Launchbay C program, we finished our summer by pitching our prototype and business plan to venture capitalists. While we did not secure an investment, we learned an immense amount from preparing a real venture capital proposal.
That summer changed the game for me. It showed me what I wanted to do with my life in academia and beyond — working on creating new ideas and products and solving problems to create value.