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ITHACA, NY — A group of student entrepreneurs at Ithaca College is developing a device meant to help cigarette smokers quit without using nicotine patches, gum or e-cigarettes.
StopPack is like an exercise tracker for smokers, but instead of steps, it counts cigarettes. It was created by Alex Horner ’17, Sethavatey Limsreng ’17 and recent graduate Aniebietabasi Ekong ’16.
Users can place their pack of cigarettes inside the StopPack device, and a sensor will record information about their smoking habits. They can then view the collected data through a smartphone app.
“We found through interviewing that many people are in denial about how much they smoke, so when they see the real data it’s a bit of a wake-up call,” Horner said.
StopPack tracks everything from how much a person smokes to the money spent on cigarettes, and even what time of day the pack is most likely to be opened. With this data, Horner says the app will help users set goals to ease off smoking. It will also have a social feature so family and friends can see users’ progress and provide support. He says that when loved ones can follow the users’ habits, smokers are much less likely to pick up the next cigarette.
Horner, Limsreng and Ekong began working on StopPack in an entrepreneurship course taught by instructor Brad Treat in spring 2016. Horner credits Treat’s classes as one of the most helpful resources for the StopPack team.
“Brad taught us how take an idea of a project from a little seed in your head and turn it into a big tree of a product,” Horner said.
Treat introduced Horner and his teammates to Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, a local business incubator established by Ithaca College, Cornell University and Tompkins Cortland Community College. Treat is an entrepreneur-in-residence at Rev. He encouraged the team to get involved with its 2016 Hardware Accelerator Program.
“Brad is our advisor and is the greatest push behind the project,” said Limsreng. “If people ever need to seek management skills or entrepreneurship inspiration, he is definitely someone to talk to.”
Treat says the StopPack team has done a great job to overcome the technical challenges they’ve faced with the help of mentors at Rev.
“They learned product development isn’t as scary as they thought,” said Treat. “They’re building a product that has potential to improve people’s health and save their lives.”
The next step for the StopPack team is finding a developer to make their app. Horner says that once they have an app prototype, they will to give it out to people to get test data. After that, he hopes to find investors and push the product out to market within one or two years.
(Featured photo provided: Alex Horner (right), Sethavatey Limsreng (left) and Aniebietabasi Ekong (center) developed the idea for StopPack during an entrepreneurship course. Photo courtesy of Alex Horner)