HIGH POINT — A trip last month to the Big Apple turned out to be, well, fruitful for three entrepreneurial High Point University students.
After winning grant money in HPU’s annual Elevator Pitch Competition — which awards funding to help students launch their own companies or continue developing their business ideas — the three students received additional funding June 15 when they attended the Global Entrepreneurship Initiative in New York City.
Recent graduates Addison Antico and Jordan Rubin, developers of a product called the MJ Bottle, and pharmacy student Ivana Korankyi, creator of Flasky Labware, each received a $1,500 grant to further their businesses.
Here’s a snapshot look at the two businesses and their founders:
Antico and Rubin, both 22 and both from the Boston area, went to high school together and have been dating for about five years. At HPU, where they just graduated with degrees in strategic communication, they tied for first place in the Elevator Pitch Competition, winning $5,000 to further the development of their invention, the MJ Bottle.
They won another $3,000 in the school’s annual Business Plan Competition.
According to Antico, the MJ Bottle is an all-in-one baby formula feeding bottle for parents on the go. The patent-pending invention features two divisions — one for the formula, the other for the premeasured water — which keeps the ingredients separate until it’s time to mix them for the baby.
“All you have to do is flip, twist and shake for the formula to be mixed,” he says. “It’s pretty simple.”
The MJ Bottle is named for Antico’s nephew, Michael Jr., because he was the inspiration for the product.
“We were going on a family boat ride, and my sister asked me to prepare bottles for him,” Antico explains. “I did, but it was a process and it was really messy. I learned you can’t mix the bottle before you leave — you have to mix it onsite. I started thinking how nice it would be if parents could prefill the bottle before leaving home and then just mix it when the child’s ready to be fed.”
That’s when he and Rubin put their heads together and developed the idea for the MJ Bottle.
“Now we’re talking to manufacturers and engineers, going through any problems the mechanism has and trying to work out those details,” Rubin says.
Within the next year or so, Antico and Rubin hope to have a prototype they can give to a test group of parents to see how well the product works in real-life situations.
“Then we’ll fix any kinks they find and give it back to the parents,” Antico says. “We’re hoping that within a year and a half, it’ll be fully ready.”
Korankyi, a 21-year-old, Class of 2024 pharmacy student from Jamestown, was a runner-up in HPU’s Elevator Pitch Competition, receiving $1,000 for her product, Flasky Labware. She also won first place in HPU’s annual Business Plan Competition, earning her a cool $10,000.
According to Korankyi, Flasky Labware is a specialized lab tool that collects the medication researchers and drug companies are usually unable to reach on the interior walls of a round-bottom flask, resulting in significant financial savings for the companies.
“It’s like if you have a bucket of sand filled to the top, and you want to take the sand out,” she explains. “There are two tools for this — a red scoop and a blue scoop. The red scoop only takes out 45% of the sand, but my blue scoop takes out 95%. Just by this extraction rate, bumping up from 45% to 95%t, we can save $60,000 in our lab each year.”
Korankyi points out that her extraction tool is not so much a new product, but an improved product.
“It’s a simple improvement of a tool we already use in labs, but it’s way more efficient,” she says.
Korankyi says the $1,500 grant from the Global Entrepreneurship Initiative will be used to further expand her product. Flasky Labware currently has a provisional patent, and the company’s pilot program is slated to begin in October.
“The pilot program will be costly, so I’m very thankful for this grant,” she says. “To have another $1,500 is just incredible.”