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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Home-Grown Gift Guide: Support These Lassonde Startups This Winter Season

Curtis Lin
Exterior shot of Lassonde Studios in Salt Lake City, UT on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. (Photo by Curtis Lin/ Daily Utah Chronicle)


The nationally-ranked Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the University of Utah provides opportunities for student innovations and startup companies. Student startups need not only the support of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute but also the support of the consumer market.

The companies below have all recently been financially supported by Lassonde and provide products and services that could be just the gift you are looking for this holiday season that also supports U students and alumni.

If you are on the search for a new laptop or phone case that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also will not break the bank, then you may be looking for a Fishskyn product. Make your phone look sleeker than a race car with a case made from a material primarily used to protect high-end sports cars.

Founded by Thomas Fischetti, Fishskyn’s range of device covers will have something for almost anyone. Get a phone case for $19 or a laptop case for $24.

Fishskyn brags about its cases being easy to apply, scratch proof, easy to grip, precisely fitted to your device, residue-free when removed and completely bubble free. With 20 new designs recently added to the Fishskyn site, these cases are sure to fit your preferences whether you are looking to treat yourself with something new or purchase a gift. Their cases provide a sleek feel and eliminate the bulkiness of most of the other protective cases you could buy. Think of a friend that has a tattered case that could use an upgrade and consider giving them a Fishskyn’s product.

BasicallYours, founded by Cameron Stack, can be used to find a range of the organic beauty and body products that you may need or want, as well as other helpful accessories such as jade face rollers.

With a goal to “get back to earth and create a sustainable way of life for those around us,” BasicallYours provides high-quality products from $5 to $65 without the harmful chemicals that other products you may get in a store or online may contain. If you are vegan or are looking for a beauty or body product for someone who is, BasicallYours has those tricky to find products as well. Keep not only yourself healthy but your friends clean and happy as well.

Exterior of Lassonde Studios in Salt Lake City, UT on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017.
(Photo by Curtis Lin/ Daily Utah Chronicle)

Where a product comes from, how it is created, and how much it costs are also all important factors to consider when buying products. Miles Petty, an MBA student at the U, runs The Care Tree, a business all about providing heartwarming photo books and original cards. Cards can be simple, purely saying “I miss you.” For an extra 50 cents, they can be more elaborate, for example, a card reading “Thanks a ton,” with a picture of a 2,000-pound weight featured on it.

As far as The Care Tree’s book collection goes, Miles recommends their two books, “I Love You Like” and “Hi Mom.”

“I Love You Like” is a collection of poems for your significant other ranging from quirky lines such as “I love you like H2 loves O” to sentimental, “So when we hear the sound / of rain pouring down / And surrounding us / I will be ready to protect you.”

According to Petty, “Several people have told me that after they gave it to someone, it stayed on the bedside table to get read over and over.”

The other book, “Hi Mom,” is written from the perspective of an adult who recognizes the hardships their mom endured for their sake. If you are looking for a gift for mom, “So far,” Petty said, “100 percent of moms smile when they read it and 50 percent cry.”

This book will let your mom know that you love and appreciate her with lines like “You had to put a hold / on your plans / And I never stopped to ask / If you could get back to them.”

These poems and books provide an opportunity to express to someone how much you care about and appreciate them. Petty encourages his customers to imagine the facial expression on their significant other’s or their mother’s face when they open this gift, knowing that you wanted to give them something that will not only provide entertainment but also a continuous reminder of just how much you appreciate their presence in life.

“Beautifully illustrated, original poem books for the moments in life you want to show how much you care. From whimsical, touching love poems to a poem book for mom guaranteed to make her feel appreciated, these books make the best gifts,” said The Care Tree website.

Another startup, Foster the Children, creates t-shirts with foster children’s artwork. The money made from selling the shirts goes towards helping families in foster care stay healthy and happy. The organization is seeking to raise awareness for these children and to try and also get them the best chance at future successes. Many times foster children do not receive the help that they need academically or that help is not given to them because of a lack of awareness.

“Currently, 40-50 [percent] of children in foster care do not complete a high-school education, and 60 [percent] will become homeless or end up in jail by the time they ‘age out of the system’ at 18,” read the Foster the Children website.

For those seeking a unique product that also helps out others, this may be a great gift. These shirts provide a way for foster children to express themselves creatively and also to support them to receive other services that they may not get without the financial support. Foster the Children started off as no more than a class project by three students; Meghan Pollard, Caden Gregorie and Daniel Hirst. Now, the company is partnered with Zions Bank and the U.

First floor of Lassonde Studios in Salt Lake City, UT on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017.
(Photo by Curtis Lin/ Daily Utah Chronicle)

Jaron Hall started the cleaning service Utah Maids while still at the U, providing the perfect way to get your friend or family the gift of a clean home with a Utah Maids gift card.

Cleaning your own home may be fun or it may be a hassle depending on how you look at it, but either way, having a clean home can provide a wonderful feeling and be a great present. This maid service keeps up with technology, which makes it easy for you to book an appointment online and allow for text updates. Everything you need to book an appointment or find prices are all conveniently located on and through their website.

On the Utah Maids website, you can select how many bedrooms and bathrooms you want to be cleaned and whether you want a one-time cleaning or a deep wash every week, every other week or every month.

The holidays tend to spark a motivation to be generous and to give to others. Mohan Sudabattula’s non-profit, Project Embrace, is a global healthcare company that strives for health equalities and a global healthcare.

Healthcare is an essential part of every person’s ability to maintain a healthy life as well as to improve the quality of one’s life. Setting aside some of the money that was planned for gifts or whatever else you can manage, consider giving to this charity. Sometimes the best gifts to give to others is the gift of the knowledge that they have helped people. Project Embrace has a hefty goal they strive to achieve, one that can only happen when supported through donations.

With an ultimate aim to help patients with limited access to quality medical equipment, Project Embrace collects and repurposes previously-owned medical devices. Since they are a non-profit, they achieve these goals through community support. Project Embrace is built on donated equipment, time and money.

“We’re still just an infant non-profit trying to learn the ropes of global business but I’m proud of what we have done in less than a year’s time,” said Sudabattula in an article he wrote for the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute in the summer of 2017.

As Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are just around the corner, now is the time to get shopping. While finding the perfect gift, students and alumni can also support fellow Utah students while also having an opportunity to try out or explore some new gift ideas. It is the thought that counts the most, and the thought put into these companies and the gifts given through them are unique. From the gift of a new case to a donation made in someone’s honor, Utes are giving shoppers around the world a chance to do a little more this holiday season by helping a small business and helping the community.

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