U Student Startups Making a Difference in Utah


Curtis Lin

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

By Mandi Johansen


The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute has helped many students launch startup companies that have been innovative in their respective fields. The Lassonde Studios building launched in 2016 and has many resources available to students. The Institute provides residential living on campus and space for activities and events. It also offers several programs such as “Get Seeded,” a monthly competition that allows students to receive seed funding for their startup company ideas, as well as the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. Art and food entrepreneur workshops are also available to students each month. Some of the recent startup companies stand out for their creativity and success.

One such startup is NipaYe. Founded by Nana Amoah Ewusi-Emmim, the startup aims to assuage mothers’ concerns for breastfeeding. Ewusi-Emmim’s 3-year-old son inspired her to create the product. Ewusi-Emmim said, “I struggled to breastfeed him [her son] and sadly, I could not find anything on the market that easily supported my breastfeeding journey.” She credits some of her success to the U and said, “Without the University of Utah, I would not be where I am today. Being a student at the university gave me access to some of the tools needed to make our product a success.” She also said, “Entrepreneurial competitions and access to professors for second opinions were some of the resources I appreciated. In addition, the University is good at helping you dissect your ideas and provides referrals to the right people and places.”

Another startup that has made a difference is called Quantum Snow. This startup was inspired by the dismal amount of snow that Utah received in 2018. The founders envisioned a man-made alternative to snow that is more light and fluffy than the man-made snow currently in production. The product is not yet fully functional for Utah’s mountains.

Etched DNA, started by Dr. Christopher Gregg, is a company working to find an easier way to diagnose patients with eosinophilic esophagitis, a chronic, allergic inflammatory disease of the esophagus.

Additionally, Neighbor, “the Airbnb of storage” allows anyone in Utah with storage space to sign up and rent out their space to those who are looking to store something. This can cost significantly less than renting a traditional storage space.

Project Embrace “is an international medical nonprofit that is dedicated to reducing health care disparities and promoting greater access to healthcare for all,” said its founder, Mohan Sudabattula. He was inspired to start the nonprofit after “noticing that there was an unnecessary amount of preventable medical waste being produced in the form of durable-rehabilitative, medical equipment.” Sudabattula said that he “recall[s] memories of children in India and connecting that they too needed this kind of medical equipment.”

“I just felt a sense of urgency to do something and made a connection in getting a resource we were underutilizing to patients who had a greater need for them,” Sudabattula continued. The U and the Lassonde Institute were “instrumental” in helping the company become successful “from providing us funding to travel around the globe for our operations, to giving us an office to work out of, to even giving us a platform to advocate for healthcare reform. We would not be where we are if it wasn’t for all the amazing resources provided to us here at the U.”

Prolink.gg is a company that won $10,000 through the 2018 Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. The founders created a social network for gamers that provides many options for interactions between people in the community.

Bushwhack created a product that combines a chair, a tent and a hammock to make backpacking more comfortable. Chase McMicken came up with the 3-in–1 idea.

MounTins is a startup company that offers a package of 20 coasters, each with an image corresponding to a restaurant in Park City. The corresponding coaster can be taken into the establishment for users to receive a discount of $10 at the respective restaurant.

In the past year, each of these companies has made their start through resources offered by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute. We can look forward to more student startups from Lassonde that will continue to make a difference in the future.

[email protected]