GVSU students sweep Outdoor Weber Idea Competition
Two Grand Valley State University students placed first and second in the Outdoor Weber Idea Competition on Friday, March 23. The first-place team, consisting of Jordan Vanderham and Jared Seifert, created the Orindi Mask, which allows wearers to breathe warm air even in cold temperatures. Taking second place was Katarina Samardzija, who created Locker Lifestyle, which allows wearers to take small valuables with them while being active.
The first-place winners took home $30,000 to put toward the capitalization of their products, while second place took home $7,500. Vanderham said the $30,000 that the Orindi Mask won is going toward executing the already-high demand for masks.
Vanderham also said he and Seifert were flabbergasted when it was announced that they won.
“Well, we were shocked. We were really surprised. It was fourth, third, second, then were were like, 'Is it us?'" Vanderham said. "Because we didn’t know who the top competitor was or what their product was. We weren’t confident that we won, but they called our name, and we just kinda awestruck walked up and smiled and shook all of their hands and stood up on the stage.”
The Orindi Mask uses the wearer’s own breath to make breathing in cold environments easier on the lungs.
“It is a cold endurance mask that allows you to breathe warm, regulated, comfortable air in the coldest of environments,” Vanderham said. “We have proprietary humidity and temperature regulation that captures the heat from your breath when you breathe out, so it captures the heat and humidity from your breath and holds it so that when you breathe back in, that cold environmental air is warm and reheated, allowing your lungs to breathe in a really comfortable environment.”
The creators of the Orindi Mask made the product to assist those who engage in cold-weather sports, as well as people who suffer from asthma, which the entrepreneurs have experience with.
“The main reason the mask was made is because I suffered from asthma when I was young, cold-induced asthma, so I couldn’t really go outside,” Vanderham said. “But my partner Jared (Seifert) experienced some of the same symptoms while exercising and pushing himself outside in the cold, so we did have the asthmatic approach and the sport approach.”
In addition to the prize money, Vanderham said the connections made at Outdoor Weber were exceptionally valuable.
“It was so much fun," he said. "He (the keynote event speaker) really cared about the commercialization and execution of our product. He wanted to add value. They wanted to sell our mask in their stores. So beyond the money and the mentorship, we got a great connection.”
GVSU students took first, second and fourth place at the competition, giving the winners a strong sense of school spirit.
“I’m proud of Grand Valley," Vanderham said. "I know all the teams that competed, and they’ve all been growing up and progressing so well. The guy that got fourth place is really fresh into the entrepreneurship network, and it’s just neat to see validation happening for them.
“I was overjoyed. I knew we were going to do well because we have a great entrepreneurship program, but sweeping the competition at that capacity was just a blessing.”