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Student Incubators

Alpha Media

Alpha Media connects the business community to local schools allowing them to promote their message to the masses while giving back to local education. Funds that Alpha Media generates to our school districts help keep teachers on staff, fuel in the buses, valuable programs intact and the overall improvement of education for our students. Alpha Media is in a strong position as an industry leader across the US. We've experienced solid, manageable growth since our inception in 2008. Current major markets include Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles. 25 school districts in 4 states are now customers; advertisers ranging from small mom and pops to Fortune 500 corporations.

Alpha Media will continue our growth into new markets and new segments.
With the help of the Kentucky State Business Plan competition, Alpha Media was able to grow from a simple idea into a real business that brings with it jobs, education funding and new revenue to local economies across the US. Alpha Media hopes that the state of Kentucky will follow in the entrepreneurial spirit of this program and allow its schools the revenue stream that our parent-approved, safe school bus ads will bring.

Michael T. Beauchamp
President & CEO
ph: 214-432-1813 fax: 888-769-6323

Custom Solution and Design, LLC

Ability Robotics became Custom Solution and Design LLC (CSD) in 2010. I felt this new name better fit the direction that the company was heading. The company now specializes in:

• Embedded systems design and prototyping
• Designing & prototyping electronic circuits and products as per custom specifications
• Wireless (Radio Frequency, RF) electronic systems design for remote control and data communications
• PCB (printed circuit board) layout design & prototyping (single & multilayer)
• Complete electronic product design from concept to completion (turnkey projects)
• Electronic Consultants

In the past two years, the company has been very fortunate to have as many clients as we have had requesting projects. A few of the many projects included fabrication of a custom robotics device for cave exploration for the Transportation Department, robotic device for an individual with a broken back, along with a medical device for solving aspiration. The latest project in 2012 was to design, develop, and prototype a veterinarian medical device for commercialization. This project required the company to hire an additional electrical engineer for 9 months. The clients are currently testing the prototypes at the Ohio State Veterinarian department.

The company has recently moved into a 500 square foot facility with many in-house fabrication capabilities. The company currently has several of its own custom electronics and robotics devices available for resale. We work with a supplier in China for the custom circuit boards and then populate them using our own equipment. I have also developed CNC devices for the proprietary operations for the outer shells required for the robotics devices. I am currently developing a new product line of a device that I hope to launch on kick-starter at the mid to end of this summer.

Please visit the web site at www.csdrobotics.com.

Ron Rizzo

Key Inventions, LLC

Owners: Justin Henderson and Jeffrey DeJarnette Jeff and Justin always liked the idea of owning their own businesses and being their own boss. "We really wanted to take an idea that we thought of and designed, and make it into a real tangible item that people could buy in stores," said Justin, President of Key Inventions. 

Business ideas come about in a variety of ways. Key Inventions was started because a professor challenged his students to come up with a way to replace the key ring. "The Key Organizer was the result of the idea Jeff came up with during the
challenge," said Justin.

Justin, an entrepreneurship major and Jeff, a mechanical engineering major decided to turn the class project into a business idea. "Three and a half years later we have successfully turned that simple drawing on a piece of paper into a tangible item that will soon be available in stores," said Justin.

Starting a business takes a lot of time and is a learning experience. Jeff and Justin believe they have learned much during this process. "Although it has taken three and a half years to get this far we have learned more in the last twelve months since we have been working with the Center for Research and Development," Henderson said. "We have learned how to take an idea, turn it into a prototype, create a business plan, and effectively pitch that business plan to potential investors. 

We learned how to start a business and turn it into an LLC, negotiate with distributors, and work with sales representatives. We have learned how to do market research, cost analysis, and a break-even analysis.

We have had experience with international business and manufacturing variances and most recently we learned about logistics through overseas customs," said Henderson. "Overall many things have been encountered and as time goes on, and our business grows, we will continue to learn more and more."

AquaGreen LLC

Aqua Green LLC logoAquaGreen LLC is a KY based business using Aquaponics to address an agricultural need in a sustainable way. Aquaponics is a unique blending of two separate sciences, Aquaculture, farming fish in enclosed areas and Hydroponics, which is growing plants in water. The concept is to use the nutrient rich water from the fish tanks to grow vegetables in a closed re-circulating system instead of using costly fertilizers and herbicides, and dumping thousands of gallons of toxic waste water onto the ground and ultimately back into the water table.

This new method of farming was developed and researched by Dr. James Rackocy at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), over the past 36 years. The UVI system setup consist of four 2000 gallon fish tanks, which in turn supply nutrient rich water to six 4'x100' long hydroponic beds. It requires only a minimum of two pumps; a one horsepower air blower and a one and half horsepower pump to circulate the water. With this system 11,000 pounds of tilapia and 16,000 pounds of vegetables can be brought to market per year. This entire operation can be done on 1/8 of an acre of land. Vegetables grown in this system have reached maturity in 400 to as much as 800 times faster than traditional in-soil methods using 90% less energy! There are now many commercial Aquaponic facilities operating internationally.

Building framing for Aqua Green LLC.

AquaGreen LLC has partnered with WKU SIFE team to build and operate a 1/10 scale UVI system. This smaller system will be large enough to teach the basics from, and provide goods to market. It also will be used for alternate energy source applications with the goal of total off-grid operations. Orphanages and schools in places such as Haiti, Guatemala, and Panama and as far away as Cambodia or Niger West Africa are examples of locations being considered for installation and instruction.

At present the AquaGreen facility is under the final stages of construction. All the components are in place and the air and water piping is complete. Water level is at 80% of capacity and is circulating without problems. The first installment of fish was September 27, 2012. To accelerate the bacteria growth in the nitrification tanks it was seeded Saturday night (Sept 30) with good bacteria saturated water from Greater Growth Aquaponics facility in Knoxville. We hope to top off the hydroponic beds with fresh rainwater and have a second installment of 100 more bluegill and a couple dozen rainbow trout following fall break. Some seeds of winter crops will be planted by the second weekend of October with the first harvest expected about twenty days later.

Retail Store

Congratulations to WKU's Students in Free Enterprise Organization and Jonathon Randolph.

Visit our Retail Store downtown in Fountain Square.
244 Fountain Square Bowling Green, KY

There's a new shop in Fountain Square downtown, and it's not another coffee shop. 

The Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) organization and Jonathon Randolph, who is unaffiliated with SIFE, are using a store space in Fountain Square downtown as part of a competition.

SIFE will be using the space to sell baskets as part of their Kenya Basket Project and other woven items such as scarves, handbags and shawls as part of a project called Community Threads.

 For the other section of the store, Randolph, a graduate student from Auburn, will be selling handmade furniture. Krist Schell, executive-in-residence at WKU, said the two projects are sharing the space. 

"There are two ventures under one roof," Schell said. 

The students will get to use the store space until April because they won a competition with their business proposals.

Bardstown graduate student Zach Mattingly, president of SIFE, said they have about $1,500 worth of Community Threads merchandise and about 200 Kenyan baskets in the store.

"Two weeks ago, we had our official opening," Mattingly said. "It's been going pretty well. We've made a couple of sales." 

Schell said SIFE is selling baskets imported from Kenya, but the other textiles are made in Bowling Green by refugees from Myanmar. 

"We return the proceeds to the weavers, both the basket weavers in Kenya and the Burmese weavers," Schell said. "We take a commission and we put the money back into making the project bigger."

Mattingly said around 90 percent of the profits from Community Threads goes back to the refugees who make the products and 70 percent goes back to the Kenyan basket weavers.

Randolph said the furniture in his part of the store will be locally made, mostly by students who are advanced in their craft.

The furniture will consist of chairs, tables, bed frames and entertainment centers, among other items.

"It probably will be cheaper than most because, you know, they're students, but it's still going to be really good work," Randolph said. "If it's not made on the Hill, it's going to be locally made."

Bob Hatfield, associate dean of Graduate Programs and Research, said the students get to use the space for free because it is donated by a woman who wishes to remain anonymous.

"It's our first opportunity to use retail space, and I really think that might happen in the future for our students, and that's exciting,"

Hatfield said. Hatfield also said this is a no-fault opportunity for the students.

"If they were putting their money together and leasing a space, if they failed, they've lost all that," Hatfield said. "In this case, we're ... subsidizing and kind of propping the student up and giving them a chance to sell their idea."

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 Last Modified 3/6/18