CCEI Helps 10 UConn-Affiliated Startups Grow, Prepare to Impact the World

Elijah Taitel (above) showing off his creation, the ProVelcocity Bat. Elijah's startup is one of ten selected to participate in the 2021 CCEI Summer Fellowship. (contributed photo)
Elijah Taitel (above) showing off his creation, the ProVelcocity Bat. Elijah’s startup is one of ten selected to participate in the 2021 CCEI Summer Fellowship. (contributed photo)

Senior Elijah Taitel loves baseball, and has spent the last few years creating the ProVelocity Bat, a unique training device designed to improve the swing of everyone from Little Leaguers to MLB players.

Sophomore Raina Jain’s passion revolves around the environment, and, more specifically honey bees. Her Queen Bee startup is preparing to sell an immunity- boosting beverage that contains honey and other all-natural ingredients.

Although their startups are vastly different, their business drive is well aligned. The two aspiring entrepreneurs began an eight-week entrepreneurship program this week, offered by the School of Business’ Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (CCEI). They are joined by eight other business teams.

Participants develop skills to bring their products or services to market, and are offered one-on-one coaching and mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts. They will be coached on everything from market analysis to brand management to financial strategies. Each team is awarded $15,000 in funding to aid their business development.

Taitel, who is majoring in management and engineering for manufacturing, said he is eager to broaden his expertise.

“I’m not an expert, so most of my ideas are guess work. Some pan out, some don’t. I’m really excited to be surrounded by actual experts and create a plan of action that will be effective for both the short- and long-terms,” said Taitel, whose company name is Extra Base Sports.

“I participated in [UConn’s] Innovation Quest last summer and over the course of the year I have still made contact with numerous mentors who have given me really phenomenal advice that has quantitatively helped my business,” he said. “I’m excited to meet even more mentors who can help take my business to yet another level.”

The camaraderie among the entrepreneurs will be one of the highlights for Jain, an engineering student.

“For Summer Fellowship, I am most looking forward to meeting other like-minded students who are all fusing entrepreneurship and impact to make a difference in the world,” she said. “Being surrounded by driven students cultivates an environment of creativity that I am fortunate to be able to experience, especially in an all-virtual setting. I also look forward to connecting with and learning from experienced entrepreneurs who can provide tailored advice and feedback to my business.”

CCEI Director Jennifer Mathieu said the Summer Fellowship is one of her favorite programs. Previous participants have focused on everything from medical technologies to pollution abatement innovations, unique apparel to consumer goods.

“As we launch Cohort Six of the CCEI Summer Fellowship Program, I have been reflecting not only on the caliber of the startups we have supported, and continue to support, with this program but also the network of mentors we have built,” she said.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to facilitate a community of entrepreneurs that inspire and support each other during the program and beyond. The relationships and connections our teams make in the program have a profound impact on their success,” she said. “It is incredible to be a part of our entrepreneurs’ journey as they are launching and growing startups that will certainly have an impact on the world.”

The other eight teams participating in the CCEI Summer Fellowship are:

  • Reactomol addresses the issues of current chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing processes by integrating more efficient catalysts. The company is led by professors Eugene Pinkhassik and Sergey Dergunov and graduate student Kevin Rivera.
  • Frontlines is a patent-pending, video-journalism web and mobile application that seeks to democratize video journalism by providing users with direct access to reliable information. Operating under the company name Social Labs, LLC, the startup is led by two brothers, graduate student Sameer Laul and alumnus Sahil Laul.
  • InPrint Bio is a handheld printer that can be used by plastic surgeons to deposit adhesive biomaterials directly onto the wound of autograph patients during soft-tissue reconstructive surgeries. The company is led by engineering Ph.D. candidate Jacob Quint, PostDoc Mohamadmahdi Samandari and professor Ali Tamayol.
  • Curated CT is a customizable subscription box service that delivers local products from Connecticut, including bread, cheese, chocolate and coffee. It is the brainchild of alumnus Donald Pendagast. The team also includes alumni Paul Carbonell and Rahul Singa.
  • PatentPlus improves patent searching and information disclosure to streamline the IP process. The startup team includes engineering undergrads Jake Winter and Massyl Mallem.
  • Engagement Solutions provides a platform that captures and stores personal information required for more applications. The company connects to social or medical services that a consumer might need. The company is led by alumna Shaleighne Cantner, business grad student Rishmi Patel, Raja Sivaramakrishnan and Jeff Kong.
  • AgroWell Biosciences offers farmers non-pesticide options for disease control at a low cost. The company team includes three CLAS graduate students, Robert Samples, Sara Puckett and Rishabh Kejriwal.
  • Reach Bar is a vegetable-based nutrition bar to supplement the dietary and nutritional needs of young adults. This startup is led by undergraduates Eva Quigley, Natalie Lacroix and Sofia Saul.