Introducing Lucid

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Team Name: Lucid LLC

Team:

Andrew Ashur ’18

David Danielson ’19

Adrian Mayans ’19

 

How We Got Here:

Back in the fall, we had an idea of a way to more efficiently and safely clean skyscrapers by using drone technology. Since then we have been off to the races, as we have obtained a provisional patent, developed a functional prototype, incorporated as an LLC in North Carolina, passed the FAA remote pilot license exam for commercial drone operation, and have begun earning revenue.

What We Do:

Currently, we are operating as an all encompassing pressure washing company for houses and we wash vinyl siding, brick, driveways, front stoops, fences, patios, etc. Additionally, we are continuing to further improve upon our prototype to enhance its efficiency and cleaning capabilities. Our prototype allows us to clean tall, hard to reach surfaces that had previously been dangerous to clean by combining the versatility of a flying drone with the cleaning capabilities of a pressure washer..

Where we’re going/what’s to come:

Lucid LLC has three big steps in the near future, with the first one being to add a new feature to our prototype that will allow us to easily clean windows with our drone. Secondly, we are applying to various accelerator programs and funding competitions to allow us to further develop our idea on a larger scale. Lastly, we will be working diligently with our lawyer to file our nonprovisional patent.

Liz StevensIntroducing Lucid
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Final Update

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I would like to start by saying how grateful I am to Innovation & Entrepreneurship for allowing me to do this project. Through the Failure Fund I have been able to:

1. Buy my own domain name

2. Use managed wordpress hosting to build my site, econically.com

3. Subscribe to the New York Times to make sure I always had access to trustworthy sources

4. Purchase a kindle, a stylus and drawing app to make eye-catching images to go with my writing

5. Follow through on a project I’ve been wanting to pursue since my sophomore year

I cannot believe how quickly time has moved on this project, how much I have accomplished, and how much I have left to do. When I started this process, I was overwhelmed, to say the least. Every decision felt enormous, and I had no idea how to gauge whether or not a spending decision would be the right one. What if I bought a theme and it turned out not to work? What if I got a tablet and it turned out the drawings were awful? What if I promote the site and no one reads it anyway? Eventually, I kept reminding myself, and having Liz remind me, why I was given the funds in the first place: to take a risk.

A few things I know for certain have paid off:

  1. I love the writing. I’ve turned in blog posts for my independent study that have been longer than anything else I’ve written at Davidson except one semester long paper. I’ve spent ages digging into topics because I am determined to think everything through carefully and from as many angles as possible. I’m definitely going to keep writing post-graduation, and I’m really looking forward to it.
  2. The kindle-drawings work. Am I the best artist? Absolutely not. But I’ve decided that the look I ended up with, which I refer to as my “snarky kindergartener aesthetic,” works for the mood and tone of the blog, and I think will definitely grab people’s attention. I definitely plan to continue that as well.
  3. I pushed myself. Deciding to take on this project was scary in its own way, and new things are cropping up to frighten me in new ways. I had to get past second-guessing everything I wrote, and wondering if I had the authority to be speaking to these concepts. Yes, I do. I had to get past feeling like I needed to be certain about everything before trying anything. I remain certain about nothing, and I’ve accepted it. Now I’m working on the fear of backlash on my posts. Anything controversial on social media can get so ugly, and the more attention I bring to this website the more criticism I invite on my writing and my self. The old doubts about whether I am smart enough, educated enough, knowledgeable enough, are creeping in, and I’m afraid of what people will say. But I started this blog with a mission to educate and I won’t let fear get in the way of that either.

Moving forward, I will be using the remaining funds to advertise on social media and to pay people to edit posts and help create images as I split my focus a little more between generating content and attracting readers. I am really excited to see where this blog can go.

Liz StevensFinal Update
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Introducing Econically.com

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Name: Ellie Rifkin, daniellekrifkin.com

Team Name: Econically.com

How I Got Here: I was driven to start this blog by the level of toxicity in today’s politics, and the level of sensationalism: the conversations we have are so explosive and partisan that we ignore the major underpinnings. I initially started blogging about economics in English 201, but without the time or framework to continue, I put the project aside. Even though I’ve had this idea in the back of my mind for a long time, and have had encouragement from friends who say they appreciate when I take the time to explain things about economics to them–even though what they call “explaining things” I call “ranting.” Discovering that the Failure Fund program could provide me an opportunity to really develop the site, gain readership, and even attempt to turn it into a source of revenue, gave me the final push I needed.

What I Do: I blog about economic topics–theory, concepts, and current events– in a way intended to be accessible, understandable, and approachable to anyone with or without formal economics education. The topic ideas come from weekly econversations sessions, informal economics discussions with students lead by professor Shyam Gouri Suresh, who also provides guidance and feedback on the posts themselves as part of an independent study course that satisfies the writing requirement for the economics major.

Where I’m going/what’s to come: Now that the site is up and running and the content, with images, has been posted, I am ready to start in on building the site’s social media presence. From there, I can focus on drawing readership to the blog and getting to the point where I can begin to set up the blog for ad revenues.

Liz StevensIntroducing Econically.com
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Z Spools Reflection 1: It Started with Failure

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One year has passed since the ideation of Z Spools, my early stage start-up venture. The

idea started with a certain failure faced my senior year of high school; as a student in an

entrepreneurial studies class, I was assigned the task of presenting a seventy second pitch to my

classmates, the purpose of which was to convince them to pursue said idea as a class project. All

of my classmates were given the same assignment, and the top three pitches with the most votes

would be selected as projects for the remainder of the course. Here, I made my first pitch for

what was then called Edible Solutions.

 

The concept was this: Edible Solutions would harvest invasive species and sell them in

restaurants and grocery stores as food products. For example, waterthyme (hydrilla verticillata) is

a prominent invasive species in Lake Erie. This organism is known for creating monocultures;

however, the plant itself has a high calcium content and is sold in stores in powder form for use

in smoothies and protein shakes. In the case of hydrilla, not only would Edible Solutions provide

a high quality, nutritious smoothie and shake ingredient, but we would also help diversify

natural areas affected by the dominant nature of hydrilla. The day following this mini pitch

competition, I learned that I lost out to a cruise line, pillow supplier, and ice cream shop.

 

A cruise line. A pillow supplier. An ice cream shop.

 

I was more shocked than disappointed that my classmates did not see the great value of my

proposition. Throughout the experience of the Entrepreneurial Studies course, I learned to view

entrepreneurship as a way to improve my society, to pursue a passion that would benefit others.

My classmates’ apparent lack of societal and environmental virtue moved me to action. No

matter where or how, I knew I would pursue my environmental entrepreneurial endeavor.

 

I expressed these qualms to my entrepreneurial studies teacher. She proceeded to provide

information regarding a competition called Erie Hack, a pitch competition taking place around

all major cities around Lake Erie — my hometown of Buffalo, NY included. The theme of the

competition was “innovation around Lake Erie,” making Edible Solutions an ideal contender. I

enrolled in the competition and began to prepare for a succession of pitches that would lead to

my to winning the Grand Prize in Cleveland, OH not for my concept of repurposing invasive

species.

 

While Edible Solutions, was not explicitly included my final pitch, a series of

consultations with high school teachers and professors at the University at Buffalo led me to

pivot towards Z Spools, a similarly minded startup with a more technical theme. I pivoted for this

reason: Lake Erie is not a clean water source, it contains a lot of pollution from runoffs and, for

that reason, most organisms living in the Lake are not safe to consume. So, while I would not be

able to repurpose invasive species for food, I began to think along the lines of something nonedible

like plastic. Reminded of a school field trip to a 3D printing company in Buffalo, on a

whim, I thought, why not make 3D printing filament? It was not after much research did I

discover a legitimate way to make 3D printing filament out zebra and quagga mussel shells —

two of the most prominent invasive species in not just Lake Erie, but also the Great Lakes.

 

Today, February 5th, 2018, I have an award winning, patent pending business idea that

arose out of seeming failure. I have earned over $10,000 in funding, and am continuing work

with my environmental entrepreneurial endeavor through an independent study on Davidson’s

campus. Stick with me for the next four months for an inside look on the life of a student

entrepreneur and how to pivot from failure to success!

Liz StevensZ Spools Reflection 1: It Started with Failure
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Introducing NXT LVL ENT

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Team Name: NXT LVL ENT

Team Members:

Victor-Alan Weeks ’19

Bradford Grant ’19

Lawrence King ’19

How We Got Here: We all met Freshman year and created NXT LVL ENT. We decided to take this more seriously and make NXT LVL ENT a business. We found out about the failure fund while doing grant research, we applied and thankfully we got the grant and are in the process of becoming a legitimate entity.

What We Do: We are a Record Label/Production company. We make music, videos and art of all kind. We also sell merchandise ranging from shirts, to hats, pants, etc, that bear our brand name, NXT LVL. We’re also an artist collective and we recruit talented artists from all backgrounds to create art that is important to them and art that will have a global impact.

Where we’re going/what’s to come: We’re going to become a legitimate company. We’ll be a record label, production company, clothing company and artist collective. We’ll continue to make music and learn more about the music industry and make art that will have a global impact and change the world.

Liz StevensIntroducing NXT LVL ENT
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Failure Fund Application

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Failure Fund

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Liz StevensFailure Fund Application
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Avinger Scholars Program Application

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The Avinger Scholars Program Application

1 Award Information
2 Application
  • Purpose of Award

    Established in honor of Robert L. Avinger, Jr., a member of the Davidson Class of 1960 and professor of Economics from 1967-1980, the Avinger Scholarship will identify and recognize one or two current first years, sophomores, or juniors who show the vision, qualities, and passions of an innovator, giving evidence of creativity, energy, and initiative that will lead to success in future endeavors.
  • Criteria for Selection

    Applicants must give evidence of their commitment to their proposed idea, issue, project, or venture. They must work hard, think critically, take smart risks, and learn from failure.
  • Award Details

    Avinger Scholars receive funding up to $5,000 to assist in accelerating their proposed idea. Examples of funding disbursements include but are not limited to: seed funding, tuition assistance in an accredited incubator program, business travel for idea development, and more! Last year, Avinger Scholar recipients included Charlie Goldberg ‘19, who runs his own clothing company, Get It Poppin, LLC; and Houston Downes ‘18, who won for Krouded, an app that crowdsources restaurant wait times.
  • Selection Process

    Finalists are chosen on the strength of their submitted applications and will be interviewed on October 19, 2017 by a committee including members of the Avinger Scholars Advisory Team and Davidson faculty and/or staff members designated by the Director of Merit Programs.
Liz StevensAvinger Scholars Program Application
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Dreamcatcher Cookies First Month Summary

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So far, the goal for the semester has been to get my business’ name out there. I have been fairly successful, because a lot of people I don’t know have approached me and complimented my cookies or asked ” Are you the cookie man?”. However, more than anything I’m struggling operationally. I have not been able to be consistent with my hours of operations, I have failed to find a stable delivery person, and I have yet to find a commercial kitchen that will be worth the expense. I have just received the failure fund money, so there are a few goals I need to accomplish in the summer. 1) I will need to buy a Costco membership in order to experiment with variable expenses and flavors. 2) I will search for potential commercial kitchens in the area or find the means to make my own with the money I’m making from my internship. 3) I will work on licensing and getting incorporated towards the end of the summer, because I will not be selling until next semester. 4) I will run a statistical analysis on each cookie in order to determine the best steps in terms of marketing the cookie.

Jesus IbarraDreamcatcher Cookies First Month Summary
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Dreamcatcher Cookies Summer Week 2

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This week I’ve spent some time thinking about Dreamcatcher Cookies Operations. The biggest struggle has been delivering the cookies within a reasonable amount of time. It takes me 12 minutes to bake, about two minutes to package and put in a delivery bag, and it takes the delivery person 5-10 minutes to deliver. In order to reduce time, I want the cookies to be pre made, or I am also considering renting an office to make Dreamcatcher Cookies a coffee/cookie shop rather than a delivery business. However, the issue with that would be competing with Summit, a local business that already has a fairly good head start. Another problem is keeping track of expenses. I need to start tracking my expenses on an excel sheet more religiously.

Jesus IbarraDreamcatcher Cookies Summer Week 2
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Dreamcatcher Cookies Summer Week 1

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Since no sales are made in the summer, I am working on some marketing tools in order to increase customer acquisition. The main focus right now is the logo. I want to have a logo that’s memorable and will make people feel like they’re eating cookies from back home, with a twist (the flavors are unique). I would prefer the logo to be cool colors since it is a nocturnal service, and because I want people to eat them and feel calm, collected, and ready to get back to studying. Within the next month, I will hire a graphic design company to make a logo and business cards for Dreamcatcher Cookies.

Jesus IbarraDreamcatcher Cookies Summer Week 1
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