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Lorentzen Hatchery students share progress at 1 Million Cups Des Moines

On a rainy Wednesday morning in Des Moines, entrepreneurs gathered, as they typically do, at Green Grounds Cafe in Valley Junction for 1 Million Cups. But instead of learning about an entrepreneur’s story about building their business, they got to hear four.

Students participating in Drake University‘s inaugural Lorentzen New Venture Hatchery took the stage Wednesday to share what they’ve been building throughout the summer. The students, who are about two-thirds through the program, received funding from the University earlier this summer to construct a business idea and recommit their summer time to a company they’re passionate about.

The program’s organizers said presenting at 1 Million Cups was a great way for students to get feedback on what they’ve been working on and implement some of those suggestions into their business.

While there’s still time left in the program’s summer session, continue reading to learn a bit more about what progress each of the companies have made so far:

AP Lumina (Naren Bhojwan and Benjamin Mullis)An automotive brake light system—a group of moving, intensifying LED lights controlled by a sensor underneath the brake of a car to help determine how hard the driver is pressing his/her brake.  

  • Officially registered their company and have a provisional patent filed
  • Spoken with automotive manufacturers about their product to determine if it should be sold to manufacturers or direct to consumers
  • 1 Million Cups suggestions: Find a way to incorporate features to avoid distracted driving
Reflex Fight Gear (Kevin Clark)Reflex Fight Gear is focused on providing unique sports training equipment and apparel to athletes across a number of disciplines. 

  • Still a few weeks away from launching officially
  • Currently pursuing provisional patent and trademark for product and company name
  • Building website to sell product as well as pursuing options like Amazon and vendor space at events
  • Created prototype and determined sale price of $25
  • 1 Million Cups suggestions: Create a viral marketing video of someone using product. Consider contacting local manufacturers in Iowa and Chicago to offset production costs.
Opportunity on Deck (Dylan DeClark)Opportunity on Deck was organized for the purpose of providing low-income students in Des Moines with opportunities to participate in free organized baseball and basketball leagues.

  • Served 256 baseball players over the last three years (150 this year alone)
  • Utilized help from more than 50 volunteer coaches and mentors
  • Cost is $1,000 per baseball clinic—each student receives baseball glove, ball, jersey and other small prizes on the last day
  • Cost is $650 per basketball clinic
  • 1 Million Cups suggestions: Consider background checks on volunteers for programs.
  Frank’s Fixies (Aaron Hermsen and Joaquin Valdes)Frank’s Fixies focuses on reigniting the “fixie” culture in Des Moines as it specializes in fixed gear bicycles by offering accessible, durable, custom-painted bikes.

  • Imported fixed gear bikes from China
  • Registered for product liability insurance
  • Have been building, selling and customizing bikes out of their apartment
  • Prices start at $350 and increase with customizable colors and attachments
  • 1 Million Cups suggestions: Talk with local bike shops about best practices and potentially selling bikes.


Read more about the Lorentzen New Venture Hatchery through our previous coverage: “Drake alum’s Hatchery lets students spend summer building companies.”

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