An 18-year-old Northwest Missouri State University student is wasting no time applying high-tech lessons from the classroom to his new business career.
Aakash Patel, a junior chemistry major from Clinton, was the star attraction at a press conference Friday at Northwest's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The event was organized to announce the launch of Patel's one-man start-up company, BlurPort LLC.
Like a lot of businesses, this one grew out of Patel's frustration over a common problem, the hassle of keyboarding in a password to access a secure USB data storage device – the "flash drive" a lot of people these days wear on a keychain or keep handy in a shirt pocket.
Of course, there are flash drives, and then there are flash drives. Professionals who do serious computing or deal with sensitive data, such as programmers, engineers, military personnel, executives and scientists, often use encrypted drives containing a self-destruct mechanism that activates when the password is entered incorrectly.
Patel said he crashed such a device a while back and started thinking there had to be a better way.
So, he's developing the BlurPort, a drive which, when used in conjunction with a smart phone, can be accessed through a scanned image unique to the user, such as an eye, finger or other physical feature.
Patel started working on his invention in August, and is now leasing a small office at the CIE where he hopes to complete software and hardware development before introducing his product to the marketplace early this summer.
"The fact that the CIE is located on the Northwest campus is a real advantage," he said. "With the resources it offers, it was really easy to get up and running. Having an office at the CIE helps with all aspects of starting a business, such as securing funding and intellectual property."
Patel said customers will be able to pre-order BlurPorts beginning sometime this week at BlurPort.com. The initial price tag is $99.
Until those orders start coming in, however, Patel is covering project costs out of his own pocket while looking for investors willing to provide venture capital.
Though he certainly has his share of entrepreneurial spirit, BlurPort is still just a sideline for Patel, who plans to wrap up his chemistry degree at Northwest before pursuing a doctorate in biomedical engineering.
An obviously gifted student, Patel graduated last year from Northwest's Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing, a two-year residential program of accelerated learning that replaces the junior and senior years of high school.