Three Arizona State University student businesses are among the five finalists in Entrepreneur magazine’s “College Entrepreneur of the Year” award.
The national award recognizes outstanding established, emerging and college entrepreneurs.
The student group to win the college honor will be featured in the January 2012 Entrepreneur issue and receive a $5,000 grant, presented by the UPS Store.
“I wasn’t thinking I would be running a business while I was in college,” said Gabrielle Palermo, a local resident and biomedical engineering major.
But these students are running businesses.
ASU, as part of the New American University mission, highly values entrepreneurship.
As part of the focus on entrepreneurship, there are many opportunities to pursue innovative business initiatives. One such program is the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative.
The ASU finalists are Boson Inc., Ellens Technologies and G3Box.
All three companies have also received grants through the ASU Edson program.
“I saw an opportunity to provide a product that wasn’t otherwise available in the market,” said Christian Stuart, a co-founder of Boson.
The Edson program grants money to ASU student entrepreneurs, while also providing them with the skills needed to launch a successful business.
Students from any school or major are eligible to apply to the program.
It was created when Orin and Charlene Edson donated $5.4 million to ASU.
With the grant money from the Edson Initiative and the potential additional award from the College Entrepreneur of the Year, these students are getting a head start on implementing inventive business ideas while still in college.
Boson Inc. started when Stuart, now CEO and president, wanted to change the way people used 3-D.
The initial idea came after Stuart watched “Alice in Wonderland” in a 3-D theater. The movie theater’s glasses made him question the cleanliness, environmental impact and style of the product.
Together with Nicolas Kane, an ASU history major with an interest in optometry, and Thomas Irwin, Stuart created Boson. After launching the company, it has come to stand for more than just fancy 3-D eyewear.
“There’s been a growth of 3-D eyewear outside of the basic entertainment industry,” Stuart said.
Boson manufactures colorful, stylish 3-D glasses that provide additional image clarity over other 3-D lenses.
Currently, the company is focusing on bringing together education with 3-D and gesture-based technology, similar to Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox. The company is also working with a construction company to integrate 3-D imagery into part of its design process.
“We’ve experienced surprising growth in education,” Stuart said. “We’re looking to integrate 3-D technology at the K-12 level to the college level, as a way to give back.”
Jeremy Ellens, a co-founder of Ellens Technology, is a senior at ASU studying business management and entrepreneurship.
“I researched the app market,” Ellens said. “The Apple store allows for really innovative software. There’s huge potential.”
Ellens’ company created an application for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch that allows veterinarians to have diagnostic tools directly at their fingertips.
“Veterinarians have a lot to manage and they’re limited to relying on memory or consulting textbooks or colleagues,” Ellens said.
Instead of leaving the animal to look up symptoms, a vet using the application would never have to leave the side of the animal, Ellens said.
His company got off the ground when he surveyed veterinarians about what kind of tools they would find useful to have available in an app form.
The application is nearly finished and will soon be available in the Apple App Store in a few months, Ellens said.
Ellens is consulting veterinarians and plans to introduce additional applications for veterinary use in the future.
The “G3” of G3Box originates from “Generating Global Containers for Good.” The nonprofit seeks to convert steel shipping containers to medical-grade, specialized, portable clinics, Palermo said.
Originally part of a class project, the G3Box is now being implemented as it converts its first container into a maternity clinic that will be completed by spring or summer of 2012. The container will be sent to Africa upon completion, Palermo said. The container was donated by Swift Transportation of Phoenix.
The company Containers 2 Clinics does a similar thing with shipping containers by renovating it into maternity clinics, but Palermo said that G3Box will be different because it plans to have many different clinic types.
G3Box will provide vaccination, maternity and emergency disaster relief clinics.
Eventually, they hope to have many other types of conversions including offices, food relief distribution and libraries.
“For every seven containers we sell, we can donate a free maternity clinic,” Palermo said.
Other founders of the nonprofit are John Walters, a senior mechanical engineering major, Susanna Young of Phoenix and Clay Tyler of Chandler, both first-year graduate students.
To support ASU’s entrepreneurs and to vote for Entrepreneur Magazine’s “College Entrepreneur of the Year,” visit http://www.entrepreneur.com/e2011/vote/college.
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