By: Samantha Dilocker, Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship
CYstarter Micah Walker (senior majoring in entrepreneurship) is a member of the Iowa State University Track and Field team and throws hammer and weight. When Micah broke his foot earlier this spring, he recognized a huge issue within the throwing industry: the design for throwing shoes has not changed in decades. Micah founded Stratus Throws to solve that problem. With the help of Michael Brown, a senior majoring in industrial design, and Peter Gilroy, a junior majoring in industrial design, the three students are working together this summer to create a brand new throwing shoe.
Micah was introduced to Michael and Peter thanks to his involvement in CYstarters. With the help of the Pappajohn Center team, a connection was formed between Stratus Throws and industrial design Professor Mark Kargol‘s IND D 592 Special Projects class.
“Right now, we’re working on the prototype (appearance) model and focusing on what materials can be formed or applied to the shoe’s upper,” senior Michael Brown explained. “When you create models, there are different types: functional models, which may not necessarily look like the final product but allows you to test the function, and appearance models that don’t function but look like the final product, which is what the team is putting together for Micah’s CYstarters Demo Day,” Professor Kargol added.
Michael and Peter have also been lending a hand in branding Stratus Throws and bringing to life what the venture represents. Together the three have collaborated to create Stratus Throws’ landing page, logos, and overall brand aesthetic.
A special project for a former thrower himself, Professor Kargol highlighted the opportunity for collaboration between CYstarters and industrial design students, saying, “Industrial design is really about problem-solving, whatever that is: systems, services, how to deliver those services, how systems should operate. This could be products, it can be a lot of things. It’s really a design process that we put in place to solve those problems. The industrial design process can be used in many applications, not just projects like this. Our students do a lot of market research, user group identification, user needs, those sort of things, which fits really well with what CYstarters are doing with their businesses. Something we stress very heavily is researching existing products, figuring out their strengths and weaknesses, where they fit in the market, and taking those findings and figuring out whether there’s an opportunity to bridge the gap in the market. You don’t necessarily need a gap, but starting with a gap is easier than when there’s already an established product or service provider.”