WA entrepreneurs take 1st place at UMass Lowell competition

Westford Academy Entrepreneurship students pose after winning first place.

Photo provided by Gina Mustoe

Westford Academy Entrepreneurship students pose after winning first place.

Sara Zukowsky, Staff Writer

On Thursday, May 5, three Entrepreneurship students from Westford Academy won first place for their three-minute innovative product rocket pitch to the Entrepreneurial UMass Lowell Graduates.

On North Campus, the three seniors Zach Lawrence, Adam Batchelder, and Justin Carlyle won first place with their idea of The QuikLock, under the guidance of their entrepreneurship class, teacher, Gina Mustoe.

“Their idea is a simple alloy door device that allows schools to simply, quickly, and securely lock and unlock their classroom doors in the event of an intruder in the building without having to build and disassemble a barricade,” Mustoe said.

The students had calculated market potential initially selling the product to Westford Public schools, then selling to neighboring towns, and eventually earning roughly $675, 300,000.

“It’s a universal fit bar that you would use in either an ALICE training or in the event of an intruder in the building. It’s mounted next to the door and there are two anchors that are installed next to the door. You take the QuikLock off the magnet and click it in so within five to ten seconds, you’re barricaded, and the intruder can’t get into the room. It eliminates the need for a barricade. It helps to reduce anxiety, and on the other end, when you make the decision to evacuate, it eliminates the need to un-barricade,” Mustoe said.

This year, Mustoe helped create this “Rocket Pitch” competition with Westford parent Tim O’Donnell, who runs the Difference Maker Program. The program includes a facility and competition devoted to innovative entrepreneurs who are able to utilize robotics and biomedical labs. And now, a “Rocket Pitch” event where high school students can present their pitches.

“If there is an invention or proposed prototype you’re trying to develop, that’s the place to go,” Mustoe said.

It was a competition between twenty-six students, twenty from WA, and six from Nashoba Regional, who Mustoe contacted through her DECA connection.

“We took what was a DECA project, and made it Difference Maker, meaning we followed their rocket pitch rubric,” Mustoe said.

All of the entrepreneurship students went to the competition and made a pitch.

“UMass Lowell found judges, one being a current student, and two are entrepreneurs that went through the Difference Maker program, so they judged and critiqued our students and then they did a three-minute rocket pitch and were judged on their idea,” Mustoe said.

Entrepreneurship is a year-long course open to only seniors, which then presents a problem.

“Because [students are graduating, entrepreneurship] is one of the things we’re considering opening up to 9th, 10th, and 11th graders as well, because now that they are going to graduate, the pitch may die with them unless someone picks up the ball and rolls with it,” Mustoe said.

Even so, winning first place, the three seniors earned a $100 gift certificate to the UMass Lowell Book Store, and the opportunity to work with a current engineering student, to help make their prototype to reality.

“It’s going to continue to be hopefully an annual event,” Mustoe said.