Melting Pot of Majors Shines Bright
Six students from different majors, backgrounds, and even cultures have united as one in the innovation process to develop a sustainable and rewarding company.
Sam Webb, an accounting senior in the BYU School of Accountancy, is the business anchor of a six-student startup called Dentium.Club, an online teeth whitening company. The rest of the crew—Austin Harrison, Zach Estiva, Mary Wilson, Hammad Javed, and Andrew Bryce—come from all different majors, including computer science, mechanical engineering, and even genetics.
What brought such a dynamic group of students together? An innovative program called the Crocker Innovation Fellowship.
“I saw a flier for Crocker Fellows and thought it would be cool,” Webb says. “After hearing from a friend that it was an amazing program, I applied and went through the interview process.” Little did he know then that this would lead to a year-long process of innovative learning, researching, and testing in an attempt to grow a successful startup.
Webb and his Dentium.Club team started out by learning the methodologies of innovation; then, after months of researching and pinpointing the needs of customers, they created a product addressing those needs. In the second semester of the program, participants move to working on the commercialization and marketing of their product.
“The program succeeds through the support and participation of the deans of the colleges of engineering, law, life sciences, management and physical and mathematical sciences,” says Nile Hatch, Crocker Innovation faculty and associate professor of entrepreneurship. “This kind of collaboration across campus is rare and leads to student experiences that can only come in teams that are so diverse and taught by instructors from so many innovation backgrounds and experiences.”
Every student at BYU experiences an occasional group project here and there, but when it comes to Crocker Fellows, a group project lasts an entire year with students who may not share a lot in common.
“This is a year-long project with people that think completely differently from you,” says Wilson, the engineer on the team. “We even have a teammate from Pakistan. It’s cool because you get a different perspective on everything and it pushes you forward as a team and you learn more and accomplish more.”
The group has worked hard all year to apply their research, resulting in the creation of Dentium.Club, a company designed to help people who want white teeth without taking a trip to the dentist and or spend a lot of money. Customers who order receive a whitening tray molding kit and whitening gel right to their doorstep for less than a quarter of the price it would typically cost. Dentium.Club has seen an increasing number of customers and will pitch to potential investors next week for future funds and partnerships.
As the project continues to grow, Webb believes his Marriott School education will be a valuable asset in shaping the vision of Dentium.Club’s future, including increasing profit margins and personnel.
“It’s good to see the big picture,” Webb says. “If the numbers don’t make sense and it’s not sustainable, we see no point in doing what we’re doing and we need to adjust. That’s how the Marriott School is helping us get to where we want to be—a successful company.”