UC student uses startup program to turbo-charge an idea
Venture Lab unlocks essential skills for entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship programs at the University of Cincinnati allow college students to explore the commercialization potential of business concepts they’ve developed in the laboratory or the classroom.
Through the Venture Lab in the 1819 Innovation Hub, Bharadwaj “Ben” Dogga connected with seasoned industry professionals and resources to evaluate the marketability of DigiE3Turbo, a software plug-in he designed to automate the digitization of jet engine blades.
Using his master’s thesis work in aerospace engineering from the College of Engineering and Applied Science, Dogga, currently a PhD student, participated in the Venture Lab’s pre-accelerator program for early-stage ideas.
I am grateful that UC is part of the Cincinnati Innovation District, offering an asset like the pre-accelerator program and innovation challenges that provided me with hands-on experience collaborating with business mentors and leaders.
Bharadwaj “Ben” Dogga UC PhD student
During the two-month pre-accelerator session, would-be-entrepreneurs are provided resources and mentorship, preparing them for graduation day, when participants pitch their ideas to potential investors.
Dogga had developed an innovative technology as part of his thesis work at UC. Called DigiE3Turbo, the software digitizes numeric data of jet engine blades from old reports developed by NASA in the early 1970s. The software outputs the data into 3D models, converting blade measurements to contemporary standards for easy identification.
While Dogga intended to market the technology to engineering students as an educational tool, one of the Venture Lab’s entrepreneurs in residence (EIRs) identified another avenue.
"Andy Foerster suggested I market the capability of DigiE3Turbo to industry leaders as a search engine to accurately identify and order replacement parts for large turbine blades,” Dogga said. “I recognized this as a valuable tool in the fields of aerospace and HVAC maintenance and pivoted my original application.”
Brainstorming sessions with EIRs and access to market data from UC libraries helped to solidify the market potential of Dogga’s refined idea.
Dogga then applied the business knowledge gained from EIRs and classroom lessons to create a pitch deck. On graduation day, he presented his concept and asked attendees to make formal introductions that could lead to informational interviews with organizations such as General Electric, Hussmann and Siemens, which might be interested in the technology.
“As an engineer, I was encouraged to try new things, take some risks and think creatively,” Dogga said. “I am grateful that UC is part of the Cincinnati Innovation District, offering an asset like the pre-accelerator program and innovation challenges that provided me with hands-on experience collaborating with business mentors and leaders."
Dogga is now looking to conduct case studies, gain additional insights and develop best practices in the industry to employ DigiE3Turbo’s technology. His goal is to provide a tool for maintenance engineers to digitize antiquated data and accurately order replacement blades when repairing engines.
Is it a business opportunity or just a good idea? Here’s why market research is key.
Through the 1819 Innovation Hub — UC’s front door to business — the University of Cincinnati connects corporations, small businesses and startup companies to a variety of business development services. With expert assistance, you can learn how to start, run and grow your business; test new business ideas; pursue executive education courses and more.
Contact Ben Dogga.