Student Ventures Sweep Entrepreneurship Competition
April 25, 2014
Engineering students Krystyna Miles ’16, and Shinri Kamei ’16, won first place, the people’s choice award, and $28,000 in the annual Dartmouth Ventures entrepreneurship competition on April 5 for their new venture, Tray Bien.
The competition, supported by Dartmouth’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer, is part of an initiative launched by President Phil Hanlon ’77 to transform student innovation into businesses and social ventures that benefit the public.
Tray Bien emerged last semester from an “Introduction to Engineering” class at Thayer School of Engineering taught by Professor Ulrike Wegst, who challenged students to identify industry needs and develop portable solutions. Miles, Kamei, and other team members discovered a need while at an area restaurant, where a waitress told them she and her coworkers suffered from tendonitis and were “just waiting for carpal tunnel” from carrying heavy, awkward serving trays.
“We observed that the standard serving tray in restaurants was begging for improvement,” says Miles. The Tray Bien team members designed several “messy prototypes” that they tested on area wait staff before arriving at “the ultimate improved ergonomic serving tray.”
Through Dartmouth connections, the team was invited to exhibit at a mid-Atlantic food-service industry trade show in December, and received nearly 2,000 orders for the product.