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Dayton Engineer

First-Year taking on Flyer Pitch

By Cara Stevens, marketing communications intern

Thanks to Leonardo Enterprises, first-year mechanical engineering student, Grace Silverberg, is competing in the final round of Flyer Pitch. 

Grace Silverberg’s company, Smiley Goat Adaptive Board Games, began when she was a high school senior. A special education teacher at Silverberg’s school presented her engineering class with an issue that her students were facing. Some students with disabilities could not play regular board games because they required the dexterity to move small pieces. 

“We replaced small board game pieces with LED lights and controls,” Silverberg said. “Now our Space Chase board game replaces game pieces with an LED light that moves down the board game, along with a button control for each player to control where the light moves."

Leonardo Enterprises is a technology-based business incubator and investment program sponsored by the School of Engineering for all University of Dayton students, faculty and staff who want to start their own business. Each start-up must have at least one engineering student on the team, and engineers are often matched with business students who have complementary skill sets.

Part of Leonardo’s role is to prepare students to participate in Flyer Pitch, one of many collaborations connecting the School of Engineering and the School of Business. There are five projects sponsored by Leonardo Enterprises in the Flyer Pitch competition this year.

In October 2019, Silverberg finished fourth in the first round of Flyer Pitch, the Shark Tank Round, which earned her a $500 cash prize. In the New Venture Creation Cameo Round in January, Silverberg received first place and a $2,500 cash prize. She has the potential to earn $25,000 + $25,000 matching support from The Entrepreneur's Center for a first place finish in the final round of the competition taking place in April. In addition to the cash prizes, top teams will receive guidance from students of UD Law School’s Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Clinic. The law students will give ten hours of free legal advice to the teams.

“If you're a student with an idea for a technology-based business – come to us. Leonardo Enterprises will invest in your business and the program only asks for a five percent profit-sharing return on investment. Some benefits include mentoring from business professionals, access to office and lab space, and negotiating the use of specialized equipment on campus. The goal is to help student entrepreneurs launch their businesses by the time they graduate,” says Dr. Emily Fehrman Cory, director of Leonardo Enterprises.

Leonardo Enterprises will provide support for Silverberg during her entire time as an undergraduate at the University of Dayton, allowing her to continue developing her adaptive designs.

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