Graduating PR major shares her experience doing business entrepreneurship project

Caitlin Flack

by Caitlin Flack

They always say that if you want to be successful you have to be willing to give up sleep. Well, let’s just say I have not slept in weeks and don’t plan on sleeping anytime soon, because, for the past 10 weeks, I’ve been turning an idea into a business venture.

I was one of the 12 finalists in this year’s “Hatch” program. “The Hatch” is very similar to the ABC’s show the “Shark Tank” except it’s at the collegiate level and for start-up businesses. The purpose of “The Hatch” is not to win a prize but to receive actual funding to start up a business.

So how does a girl pursuing a journalism degree turn an idea into a business venture? By not sleeping and drinking a lot of coffee.

My idea all started when I took Kirk Kern’s Introduction to Marketing course in 2013. We talked about the way technology is changing marketing and the way we shop. Thanks to much advancement we now have digital shopping lists, electronic coupons, applications, and Scan & Go. But what is sad is that I cannot utilize this new technology because my cell phone is always dying, and I knew I was not alone.

The idea for doing “The Hatch came to me while I was training for a marathon this summer.  I remembered hearing about “The Hatch” and then the next thing you know I am entering my application for a product called ChAArged.

ChAArged is a solar device that attaches to a shopping cart and charges your mobile device while you do your weekly grocery shopping. The solar device runs off the energy from the sun as well as the lights within the store. The device then has the capability to charge your phone.

Sounds simple, right? Wrong. There were so many questions to be answered. What size of solar panel is needed? What size of a battery? What kind of bracket? Where do you place the bracket? Many more questions needed answers.

While searching for the answers, I found a company in California called SunCore Solar that had a product that replicated what I wanted. On the advice of my mentor, I called SunCore and the next thing you know company engineers are sending me my prototype. So rather than designing this device from nothing, like I was planning on doing, I was able to secure a private label with SunCore Solar.

On April 9, I walked off the stage with the commitment of three investors. Throughout this entire process, I had a mentor who guided and helped me. Today I can honestly say that my mentor, Jack Horney, is now a friend and we speak almost every week. What made my involvement in “The Hatch” so unique from the rest of the finalists was the fact that I wasn’t a College of Business student. I was from the College of Arts and Sciences.

So what’s next? I graduate in May 2014 and have already accepted a full-time position in Northwest Ohio. I plan on working while I continue to make ChAArged a reality. I’ve already been in touch with the investors since “The Hatch” and we hope to continue moving this forward. It’s only a matter of time before you can get ChAArged at your local grocery store.

One-minute recap of this year’s Hatch.

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