Kent State Student Wins $1,000 in NEO IdeaLabs Pitch Competition
On Thursday October 22, Luke Leyden (junior, computer engineering technology) found himself pitching his entrepreneurial venture, Trolder, to a panel of judges via Zoom in the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium's annual IdeaLabs competition. Leyden, impressing the judges with his knowledge and passion, placed 3rd, taking home $1,000.
Trolder, a combination of the words 'try' and 'solder,' is focused on making electronic kits for all ages and skill levels. "Competing for Kent State in the 2020 IdeaLabs competition was an amazing opportunity, and the $1,000 will help to continue my goal of bringing this product to market,” said Leyden. “I am very excited about the future of this idea and the impact that it can make!"
Trolder’s goal is to design and sell kits with easy-to-follow instructions that anyone can use to make a small electronic gadget while gaining a better understanding of what different electronic components do and how they all work together to run the modern world.
"We are so excited for Luke and proud of his work in this competition. His award was well deserved, and we cannot wait to see where he takes Trolder," said Tabitha Messmore, Interim Assistant Director, LaunchNET Kent State.
IdeaLabs is a regional competition hosted by the Entrepreneurial Education Consortium (EEC), in which the EEC-member institutions send their local pitch competition winners. Leyden was one of two teams who represented Kent State from LaunchNET's 2020 Idea Olympics competition in the Spring. Leyden faced tough competition from student entrepreneurs from 11 other Northeast Ohio colleges and universities, pushing through the first, elevator-pitch round and the nerve-wracking experience of completing a pitch presentation virtually.
"It's not easy to win these types of competitions in a normal environment, let alone moving through multiple rounds and persevering through a finale on Zoom,'' said Zach Mikrut, Interim Director LaunchNET Kent State. "Luke represented Kent State tremendously well while up against other strong student entrepreneurs from around the region."
The purpose of the EEC is to provide practical, experiential, and theoretical education to students in Northeast Ohio to prepare them to become entrepreneurs; create new ventures and jobs; and build wealth for the region. Member institutions are Ashland University, Baldwin Wallace University, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Hiram College, John Carroll University, Kent State University, Lake Erie College, Lorain County Community College, University of Akron, University of Mount Union.
LaunchNET Kent State is the KSU liaison for the EEC. For more information on IdeaLabs or to connect on future opportunities, please go to www.kent.edu/launchnet
Third place winner Luke Leyden delivers a speech about web security at the Kent State School of Communication Studies' Hyde Park Forum in 2019.