Innovative ideas pay big dividends

Chad Barr
“My successes and failures in these ventures have allowed me to bring a more balanced point of view to the classroom and, in turn, made me a better teacher.”

Chad Barr

More than 25 budding entrepreneurs stepped up to the plate, pitching their business ventures to a panel of judges for a chance to win cash prizes in the 2015 Howard Isaacson Innovation Challenge.

The competition—run by Brian Sommer, assistant professor of management—gives Lynn students, faculty and staff the opportunity to take their idea for a new product or business, research that idea, and develop a pitch to introduce it to investors and the marketplace. Now in its third year, the competition was the brainchild of alumnus Jeremy Office ’11. This was the first time the Howard Isaacson competition was open to Lynn faculty and staff.

“I think that the program has the ability to be a cornerstone for the entrepreneurship program in the College of Business and Management,” says Sommer.

Of the entrepreneurial-spirited group, 14 initial presentations, seven semi-finalists and the final four were whittled down to two winning concepts:

  • Miguel Sonnack, Conservatory of Music master’s student, overall and student winner of $7,500 and six months of free rent space in the nearby Research Park, for his product SK5 speakers. For Sonnack, it’s all about quality: “These are good speakers at an affordable price; you can’t forget that quality is valued by people.”
  • Chad Barr, associate professor of sports management in the College of Business and Management, faculty winner of $5,000 for his product, Tab-Legs, a holder for mobile devices. “The inspiration for Tab-Legs was quite simple,” says Barr. “I was fed up with holding the tablet while using it on the couch. After a few trips to Home Depot, I had a working prototype. My successes and failures in these ventures have allowed me to bring a more balanced point of view to the classroom and, in turn, made me a better teacher."

This was the first time the Howard Isaacson competition was open to Lynn faculty and staff.

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