Concept2Venture and ThirtyFiveK: A Semester Review

This fall semester seems like such a whirlwind looking back on my Technology Ventures experience. Tony Mammana-Lupo, Alex Duchak and I formed a business (ThirtyFiveK), legally incorporated it, licensed a technology for use from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, recruited the inventor of our technology to be one of our company’s founding members, worked day and night, and sacrificed for our company. We kicked off the business plan competition circuit with UIC’s Concept2Venture business plan competition this past week – and ended up placing 1st in the competition

Our team licensed an environmentally friendly, durable super-hydrophobic coating that is believed to be the most water repellant substance on earth. Lab tests have shown that when this is applied to industrial surfaces that are subject to fouling (scaling and corrosion specifically), this can prevent fouling from occurring. Fouling can lead to increased energy costs of up to 40 percent and is energy and maintenance intensive to remediate. Because our coating is safe and environmentally friendly, it can be applied to surfaces that even touch food and water. We believe this really could change what is such a fragmented market -our product is incredibly durable and can be applied in industries ranging from power generation to desalination alike.

Initially, I hadn’t believed that this course would be as much work as it was, and I certainly was wrong about that. On average, I worked 20 hours a week on this class alone for the first half of the semester. However, for the last six weeks or so, we worked at least 40 hours weekly on this project and watched it turn into a full-fledged business (albeit a very early stage business), but a business that we are very proud of nonetheless. You may be wondering then, if I think the sacrifices were worth it. Yes. Absolutely. I have no regrets whatsoever. Nothing in life worthwhile comes easy.

I don’t think words can do justice to explain what I have learned this semester. Besides all of the obvious things like how to write a business plan, an elevator pitch, and a presentation focused on getting funding, I’ve learned so much more. Of course, there have been kinks in our plan- that’s why this is a learning experience and the best one of my life, quite frankly. I feel that my resiliency has truly shined through this semester.

There is no rest in store for me. I’m planning on taking a few days to decompress, but then it is back to the grind. We are diligently seeking grant funding and are going to start aggressively seeking meetings with investors. Also in the spring semester, we will travel around the country and participate in business plan competitions that are part of Moot Corp with the goals of winning significant prize money for our business, further lab testing, networking, and getting our company’s name out there.

For now, I am going to take some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Stay tuned for more updates on ThirtyFiveK in the new year! 

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The Concept2Venture (C2V) business plan competition aims to stimulate and nourish the entrepreneurial spirit in UIC students campus wide. In particular, C2V seeks to encourage students to develop and grow new ventures based either on their own ideas and technologies or those developed by others, including faculty members and alumni. The competition aims to provide participating students a forum where they can develop skills in pitching ventures to investors and receive constructive feedback, thereby increasing the probability of successfully launching ventures now and in the future. C2V provides the best of these ventures with resources to assist the winning student team in pursuing the launch of its venture.

ThirtyFiveK Incorporated won first place in the 2012 Concept2Venture business plan competition. ThirtyFiveK is a service provider to desalination plants to reduce costs and increase efficiency using a patented super-hydrophobic coating product. Team members in ThirtyFiveK include UIC Liautaud MBA candidates Kristen Perhach, Alex Duchak, and Tony Mammana-Lupo. Stay tuned to the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies webpage for a full listing of this year's C2V winners.