Ashtabula Students Get Real-World Experience With Erie Startup
Two students from Kent State University at Ashtabula are leading a team of students from Gannon University in partnership with 3sixty5 Health Innovations, an Erie, Pennsylvania-based startup, which is releasing an all-new health mobile app aimed at helping users maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Joseph Kuvshinikov, associate professor at Kent State Ashtabula, teaches Business Consulting and Practicum, where students have 15 weeks to work with and provide consultation to a local client.
“The students meet with the client at the beginning of the semester, and they get a list of tasks and areas to research that is in conjunction with the client,” Kuvshinikov says. “Students provide status reports throughout the semester; and then at the end, they have a final report both written and oral.”
The capstone course is typically a small class with an enrollment cap of 12 students, but this semester only two students enrolled in the class: Jennifer Bean, senior business management major, and Callen Weber, senior insurance studies major.
“To be given the opportunity to consult my first client is truly a wonderful opportunity and has been a great experience thus far,” Bean says. “It is something that I think both the students and the client will definitely benefit from.”
For the past few years, the capstone class has worked with the Erie Technology Incubator, providing consultation for startup companies. Gannon houses the incubator, and Kuvshinikov has a long working relationship with the facility.
“In this class, students are serving a live client, and a lot of interaction takes place between the client and the students,” Kuvshinikov says. “The students serve as a consulting company. They have to make all the decisions, so this is real world.”
Kuvshinikov reached out to the president of the Erie Technology Incubator, Jeff Parnell, who also teaches an entrepreneurial course at Gannon, to combine their classes to take on the 3sixty5 project.
Four students from Gannon work with the Ashtabula students, but the Ashtabula students are taking the lead on the project because it is the primary focus of their class.
“When people work together as a team, essentially anything is possible,” Bean says. “When you take people with varying perspectives, experience and knowledge, oftentimes something wonderful can be created.”
3sixty5 has created a health app for smartphones and tablets with three goals: track and customize users’ nutrition; help monitor their weight, goals and food intake; and provide accountability. Kuvshinikov says there are many health apps out there, but none has the sort of accountability featured in this app. The app will send its users reminders when they are not sticking to their goals.
“My students are looking at things such as: What populations could be served by this app? What is the nature of this app? What do we need to know about apps and what is the business plan for the app?” Kuvshinikov says.
A beta version of the app, tentatively named 3sixty5, is expected to be launched in late summer or early fall.