Demo Day

Students showcased their venture projects during Demo Day on June 29 at Wilbur Powerhouse. The event is a culmination of work after six weeks of immersive entrepreneurial experience through Baker's Hatchery program.

Baker Institute’s Student Entrepreneurs Present Projects at Hatchery Demo Day

The students showcased their venture projects after six weeks of immersive entrepreneurial experience through Baker’s Hatchery program.

Story by

Christina Tatu

Photography by

Holly Fasching

A sturdy double ice cream cone sandwiched together with caramel; an app that advises aquarists on how to build a tank and start their fish-keeping journey, and “smart glasses” that can read to those who are visually impaired and help them recognize faces.

These were among the projects presented during the annual Hatchery Demo Day hosted by the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation on Thursday, June 29. The open-house-style-event at Wilbur Powerhouse featured expo tables where students displayed their projects while answering questions for visitors who had a chance to vote for a “People’s Choice” award winner.

“I wouldn’t have done this without the Hatchery. It pushed me forward and helped me develop this project,” said Caroline Wang ’26 as she explained the Aquapedia app.

Wang, a pre-med major, said she has fond memories of her father’s 100-gallon-fish tank full of colorful tetras, a type of fish that swims in groups, creating a flashy wave of color through the water. Wang heard from others, and had her own experience, in trying to set up a fish tank only to have it fail. Aquapedia allows users to input the size of the tank they want, pick out the type of substrate, plants and fish they wish to have.

The app suggests the equipment needed to run the tank successfully, includes a care manual for the fish and ships everything to the user. The app can also be used to identify algae or illnesses and suggest remedies.

As part of her project, Wang interviewed 50 people who keep fish. “I want to help people start their tanks easily,” she said.

President Helble at Demo Day

Lehigh President Joseph J. Helble '82 hears a presentation from Simaran Kaila ’26 about Froot, a web-based platform that connects local farms and restaurants.

Minh Nguyen ’25 was also inspired by his own experience to create “RealEyes,” smart glasses to help the visually impaired. Nguyen said his grandmother has low vision that got so bad she couldn’t even see his face anymore or perform her day-to-day tasks.

Nguyen, a finance major, hopes to develop glasses that can read books, labels and newspapers to her. He also wants to include a medication reminder and a GPS tracking feature so that if the individual goes outside it makes it easier for family members to know where the person is.

Nguyen is working on the project with four other classmates and hopes to continue with it during his time at Lehigh.

“It’s been a fascinating journey for me,” he said of his time participating in the Hatchery.

The Hatchery Student Idea Accelerator is a full-time, hands-on summer program where Lehigh students learn the principles of design thinking and entrepreneurial mindset before developing solutions to real problems and testing potential business ventures. During the program, students see their business ventures come to fruition, from identifying problems and conducting customer research to ideation, prototyping and testing.

“What we focus on is helping students identify a problem they need to solve,” Getzler said. “We are inviting students to come and explore a problem and find the opportunities to solve those problems in a new and innovative and entrepreneurial way.”

During the six-week Hatchery program, students identify a problem that resonates with them. They identify the key audience and stakeholders who are dealing with the problem before they begin creating a solution.

“Six weeks is not long, but it was enough for me to think about the project and get it going,” Nguyen said.

Froot web site

Aidan Cochran ’26, Griffin Siviglia ’25, Elisa Brear ’26, Simaran Kaila ’26 and Sanchita Shrivastava ’26 developed Froot, a web-based platform that connects local farms and restaurants.

After Demo Day, students can continue to develop their venture projects in the fall by attending EUREKA! Pitch Nights where they have the chance to win money to further develop their ideas in addition to getting valuable feedback. The winner of the Demo Day People’s Choice Award was announced toward the end of the event and presented to Marilyn Gao ’23, Helen Gao ’26 and Aidan Judd ’26 for ConeFusion, a new, sturdier ice cream cone made of Dutch waffles sandwiched together by caramel.

Marilyn Gao had the idea for ConeFusion after eating ice cream with stroopwfel, a thin round cookie made from layers of sweet dough held together by caramel. Her research included taste testing with a group of 15 people and talking to local ice cream shop owners who said they liked the product because it was sturdier than a traditional cone.

Gao said the Hatchery was inspiring and informative. “It was so helpful, not just with pitching at EUREKA! and funding, but also getting feedback,” she said.

Brian Quispe ’20, ’22G, the young entrepreneur in residence with Baker Institute who is also the manager of the Hatchery program, said this year’s student cohort is the most diverse group ever to go through the program. The students come from eight different countries and range from second-year undergraduates to graduate students from various majors.

Several of the students participated in the Hatchery through a partnership between Lehigh and Ashoka University in India.

Quispe started his company OcuTrap through the Hatchery three years ago and since graduating from Lehigh has returned to work for Baker Institute. Getzler said Quispe’s involvement is an example of Baker’s “ talent pipeline,” having former students come to work at Baker Institute and offer a unique perspective to current students pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors.

“This organic growth makes it easier for me to not only connect with the students, but also give them advice that they’re going to listen to and then execute,” Quispe said of his experience as a student at Lehigh for six years.

Student projects featured at Demo Day:

ConeFusion (Marilyn Gao ’23, Helen Gao ’26, Aidan Judd ’26) A Dutch caramel waffle cone.

BioBloom (Danny Tulsiani of Ashoka University, Rishon Mathew of Ashoka University, Xindi Zhang ’24, Latifur Rahman ’26) Development of a biogas plant that specifically targets discarded flowers.

Froot (Aidan Cochran ’26, Griffin Siviglia ’25, Elisa Brear ’26, Simaran Kaila ’26, Sanchita Shrivastava ’26) A web-based platform that connects local farms and restaurants.

Region (Daniel Chiavenato ’25, Sean Fleming ’24, Grayson Ruark ’26, Niall Cordes ’26) Modernizing the sale of used car parts.

CareCoalesce (Rachel Roseman ’23G) A bidirectional system for physicians and insurance companies.

RealEyes (Minh Nguyen ’25, Nga Vu ’26, Tasfia Iqbal ’25, Kien Tran ’26) Smart glasses integrated with a mobile app to empower the visually impaired.

Transpense (Cedrique Wekesa ’25) A comprehensive spend management and financing solution tailored to optimize the end-to-end financial operations of Africa’s mid-market transportation and logistics businesses.

Aquapedia (Caroline Wang ’26) An app that helps aquarists save money and time during their fish-keeping journey by guiding users on how to set up the tank and delivering all the equipment to their doorstep.

DEL-LAM (Tenzin Tselha of Ashoka University) Aims to provide a professional networking and guidance service platform for Tibetan students around the globe.

BioBloom table at Hatchery Demo Day

BioBloom, developed by Danaysha Tulsiani, Rishon Mathew, Xindi Zhang ’24 and Latifur Rahman ’26, would use discarded flowers to produce a bio gas. Above from left are Rahman and Tulsiani.

Story by

Christina Tatu

Photography by

Holly Fasching

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