Students gain entrepreneurship skills at the Hatchery


From left, Brooke Lichak, ’19, and Kaylee Duggan, ’19, had participated in the Baker Institute’s Hatchery Program this past summer. They learned fundamental skills of entrepreneurship and explored various startup opportunities. (Courtesy of Kaylee Duggan).

Editor’s note: The information in this article was updated to accurately represent the number of students and projects completed at The Hatchery during the summer of 2018. 

A total of 35 Lehigh students, two Ashoka University students and one student from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign participated in the Hatchery Student Idea Accelerator, an immersive 12-week summer entrepreneurship experience organized by the Baker Institute. 

The program began on May 22 and ran until Aug. 9 at the “Innovation Triangle” on the sixth floor of the Fairchild-Martindale Library. The goal of the program was to teach participants the fundamental skills of entrepreneurship and explore various startup opportunities.

The Hatchery consisted of five different “nests”: Venture, Homelab, EdTect, Healthcare and Civlab, each led by community experts and faculty. There were 12 projects that emerged from the nests, which focused on specific problems and solutions.

This summer, LauchBayC, a 9-credit full-time student accelerator program, was included in the Venture nest.

Edan Raymond, ’19, who participated in Venture nest, said students were encouraged to pursue and develop ideas that were meaningful to them using a design-thinking process.

He said the students’ time was split into class activities, which provided the necessary tools to move forward with their companies, and free time where they were able to develop ideas.

Raymond and his partner Alex Woods, ’21, created Fresh Set team. The team’s goal was to make college life more convenient and healthy. The pair saw a pursuable product market in disposable college dorm sheets. 

“Most of our time involved iterating through prototypes as we gradually moved toward one that we felt would be suitable,” Raymond said. “We also spent time getting out in the world and visiting schools in the Lehigh area to validate our market assumptions through surveys.”  

Preff, a social media app created to promote a more effective method of communication between restaurant managers and their customers, was another health-related project in the Venture nest.

One of the Preff team members, John Cunningham, ’21, said as they interviewed more people, their idea drastically changed.

“We realized that there needs to be a way to redesign Preff based (on) meeting people rather than finding the best restaurant,” Cunningham said. “Also, Preff would be used to find a restaurant that everyone has in common. Our goal is to just find a comfortable restaurant where you can easily meet up with family and friends based on common interests.”

Raymond said the Hatchery is an a good opportunity for students to pursue ideas they are passionate about in a community of collaborative, like-minded individuals.

“Growing up, I always knew I wanted to start my own company, and I can confidently say that my experience at the Hatchery was beneficial in helping me to really understand what that entails,” Raymond said.

Dominick Allen, ’20, who also worked on Preff, said it was beneficial to work with other students on the project.

“Our skill sets are all similar but different enough that we can compliment each other and our weaknesses,” Allen said. “I definitely learned a lot about myself, how to work with people and the importance of a strong work ethic.”

Cunningham said the hands-on nature of the program helped him better apply his classroom learning to real-life situations.

William Peracchio, ’21, co-founder of the Preff team, said he recommends this program to all first-year students. 

“I learned a ton about being a self-starter, seeing problems in the world and thinking of ways to improve a situation and get people to adapt to it,” Peracchio said.

Applications for next summer’s Hatchery will be accepted on a rolling basis.

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