By Kathryn Marchocki
The Telegraph, Nashua, N.H.
Putting theory to practice, local students who have worked together for more than two years recently secured a patent on a tracking device they designed for a young entrepreneur competition in 2012.
Elisha Shah of The Derryfield School, Shefali Mangatani of Bishop Guertin High School, as well as Rishi Kachrani, Samarth Desai and Kunal Shah from Nashua High School South, competed in the Boston chapter of the Tie Young Entrepreneurs program in 2012, placing third.
For the competition, the group created a company called Reperio and designed a product for tracking misplaced items using a Radio Frequency Identification sticker and smart phone application. They filed to patent the design during the competition in 2012, receiving approval this month.
The TYE program has students create a company, business plan and product to pitch to a panel of venture capitalists.
“They teach us about business, how to create a business plan to sell to VCs. In the final months, we team up with four to five people to compete against eight teams,” said Kunal Shah, now a freshman at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Kachrani said they came up with the product idea by thinking of everyday problems.
“Losing things is a problem everyone has … it’s easily fixed with technology,” he said.
“We tried to appeal to everybody,” said Mangatani.
In their research, he said they found other similar patents, but nothing as affordable as their product.
“The same solution is out there, but extremely expensive,” said Kachrani.
The process of seeking a patent gave students real business experience.
“The classes and making a business plan … it was all hypothetical. Actually doing the patent was a step forward,” said Mangatani.
“We learned a lot about business and actually got to meet a patent attorney,” said Elisha Shah.
They dealt with obstacles along the way.
“It was fairly difficult, we didn’t know it would actually be approved,” said Kunal Shah.
The patent was initially rejected until the group ensured the product use and description did not overlap with existing patents before successfully receiving approval.
With one member off in college and the others about to graduate high school in spring, the group plans to license the technology to other companies rather than build the device on their own.
To find a niche for the device, Kunal Shah said they have been researching similar products in similar markets.
“We haven’t found anything exactly the same,” he said.
Kachrani said once another company needs the design, they will contact them for use.