A great idea can strike at any time. Sometimes it's a flash of brilliance, and other times it develops through hard work.
For Lehigh Technical Entrepreneur student Keith Martin ’13, ‘14G, it took a little of both to bring his invention to the fingertips of others.
Martin developed his company, IncuMagic LLC, to create writing implements that fit over the tip of a user's finger, called "Finger Markers."
Martin came up with the idea during the summer creativity class, but he didn’t think too much about it until taking a prototyping course later in the year. Martin created a prototype with wire, paper and a piece of lead, and it was an instant hit within the class. That’s when Martin started taking his idea seriously.
"When I got the idea, I originally thought that someone else must have done it before," Martin explained. "So I started to do some patent research and there was really nothing out there like it, so I just thought, 'let’s give it a shot.'"
The markers are designed to be used both as finger markers or held as a typical marker. The product is not limited to markers, but is also comes in other product styles, including pencils, crayons, paintbrushes, dry erase and styluses.
Through the tech entrepreneurship program’s Intellectual Property Course, Martin started to make contacts with lawyers who specialize in integrated product design and patenting.
In the fall, Martin entered the EUREKA! Ventures Competition Series through Lehigh’s Baker Institute. Martin earned 2nd place in the Michael W. Levin ’87 Advanced Technology Competition, receiving $1,500 in cash, $2,500 in-kind and two student teams through Lehigh’s IPD program.
The student teams are currently working on the medical applications of the fingertip writing devices, focusing on the Finger Markers' use with both rehab and assistance. The markers make it possible for anyone who is unable to grasp a writing utensil to write using their fingertip instead. This could open doors for people with disorders including cerebral palsy, who were previously unable to write due to the difficultly of a holding a pen.
Martin was recently named a finalist in the Licensing Executive Society’s (LES) Graduate Student Business Plan Competition, focusing on how a company’s business plan is written and implemented.
Martin credits the Technical Entrepreneurship program with helping him to get his business started by introducing him to lawyers, banks, accountants and other people in the industry who can help him with future inventions, ideas and innovations he may have for businesses.
The program is filled with students from a variety of undergraduate and career backgrounds. Each individual brings something different to the program, allowing collaboration and innovation to flourish within the group.
"Coming from an engineering background, being in this program has helped me link the engineering side of my ideas and projects to the business side," said Martin. "With what I've learned in TE, I now have the knowledge to start a business whenever in my life."
- Baker Institute: Eureka! Ventures Competition Series
- iStart: IncuMagic LLC
- LES Foundation: Finalists Announced for 2014 International Student Business Plan Competition
- Lehigh Valley Live: Lehigh University graduate invents fingertip markers for children, disabled