“our business would not exist today if we did not have this opportunity to go through the RAIN accelerator. The four of us would have moved on into the world and sought to be gainfully employed helping someone else build their dream, instead of building our own.” -Thomas Blase, Chief Officer and Founder of LightLock
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UO students develop Bluprint for business
A university class project becomes a real-life exercise in turning an original idea into a business
Sherri Buri McDonald
The Register Guard
November 7th, 2016
What started out last year as a class project for four University of Oregon undergraduates may become a real-life solution for bicyclists looking for a better way to protect their bikes and bike accessories.
The Eugene startup Bluprint has designed and is preparing to manufacture a combined bike lock and lights system called LightLock.
The company plans to launch on Jan. 1 a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise $25,000, offering the lock as a reward to Kickstarter supporters who pledge a to-be-determined amount.
The lock detaches into two pieces. One half mounts on the handlebars and the other under the seat to become headlights and taillights.
When riders reach their destination they can reattach the two halves around the bike, securing their lights, lock and bicycle, said Thomas Blase, chief executive and a co-founder of Bluprint.
In a presentation at a recent Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network (RAIN) event, Blase called LightLock the world’s first light and locking system for bicycles.
Blase co-founded the company with three other recent UO graduates: business majors Alex Reinhart and Tyler Kamerer, and product design major Siobhan Mead. Kamerer has moved on to other pursuits and is no longer with the company, Blase said.
Mead came up with the idea and design for LightLock after the lights were stolen from her bike in Eugene.
She collaborated with business students to see if her new design might be marketable.
The students tested the business idea at the nonprofit Fertilab Thinkubator’s Startup Clinic. Then they moved on to Fertilab’s eight-week pre-accelerator ID8 to figure out their business model, Blase said.
In June they entered RAIN’s 16-week business accelerator in downtown Eugene, which they completed last month .
Blase said unequivocally “our business would not exist today if we did not have this opportunity to go through the RAIN accelerator. The four of us would have moved on into the world and sought to be gainfully employed helping someone else build their dream, instead of building our own.”
He called the RAIN accelerator “an incredible experience.”
“The number of businesses and talented people working in the same space makes sharing resources and knowledge inevitable, and it has enabled our business to grow exponentially in a very small period of time,” Blase said.
“Everything from marketing and branding, to overseas manufacturing and distribution channel strategy, to engineering and design insight has come our way over the duration of the program,” he said. “The value in reaching out, helping others and creating a lively startup ecosystem in which your business can thrive is one of the most powerful things we have learned through this process.”