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High school entrepreneurs in Utah can bring their innovative ideas to life

Nov 4, 2023, 5:28 PM

(Vivek Anandh)...

(Vivek Anandh)

(Vivek Anandh)

SALT LAKE CITY — A waterproof backpack made from an old camping tent. Technology that scans your pantry and gives you recipe ideas for what you have. A glow-in-the-dark hockey puck. A water tester that reads what elements are in the water.

All of these ideas came from Utah high schoolers, and more have the opportunity to be shared early next year.

Utah high schoolers can win up to $10,000 from the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business for their innovative business, app and product inventions seeking to solve problems faced in day-to-day life. Applications opened in September and will close in January.

Anne Bastien, Utah High School Entrepreneur Challenge program director, said the program gets about 90 applications every year. From those 90 applications, 20 finalists are selected to present their ideas.

How the inventions are judged

The inventions are then judged on four criteria: problem, solution, market and prototype.

“What is the problem out in the world or the opportunity that you see, and then what is the unique solution that you propose? Who is it for? What is your unique idea? Has it not happened before? What sets you apart?” Bastien said, explaining these are the questions the application seeks to answer.

Vivek Anandh and business co-founder Adrian Sucahyo won first place in the 2022 entrepreneur challenge for their idea for a water tester that reads what is in the plumbing and drinking water of a home.

The idea came when Anandh’s family noticed a white residue being left on their pots and pans when they first moved into their Holladay house in 2017. After paying for someone to come test their water, Anandh and Sucahyo came together to figure out a more affordable way for families to do the same thing.

“I’d say a lot of the process was kind of figuring out as we went, because neither of us have any business background. … So we’ve been figuring things out, and Lassonde has been a great help,” said Anandh, who is now a student at the University of Utah in the Lassonde Institute.

Anandh and Sucahyo hadn’t planned on going into entrepreneurship, but when they developed the idea for a school engineering competition, they decided to take it further.

A great educational opportunity

For students thinking about applying, Anandh said the competition is a great learning opportunity.

“There are a lot of great prizes, and the money has definitely helped us a lot, but I think the experience helped us more. We learned a lot, and I would say that for those who are thinking about joining, just take a leap and just apply,” Anandh said.

Students applying don’t need to have the actual product in hand, but a presentation of the idea is necessary. Anandh said a prototype of their invention impressed the judges.

While the first place winner will be awarded $10,000, other top winners will win varying cash prizes. All 20 finalists will receive a $1,000 housing scholarship and a spot in Lassonde studios’ entrepreneurship program at the U. The $10,000 can be used for whatever the winner wishes, often being put toward developing their product and going through school.

Bastien emphasized that applicants can submit more than one application if they have multiple ideas.

While Anandh and Sucahyo haven’t gotten to a sales stage with their product, being part of Lassonde has helped them make the right connections to manufacture the product and start selling, Anandh said.

The deadline to apply is Jan. 16, 2024. For more information on the challenge, including deadlines, visit Lassonde’s website.

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High school entrepreneurs in Utah can bring their innovative ideas to life