November 7, 2010

Kristen McClellan ’12 Develops Sun Screen Booth

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Next time you go to a beach-side hotel or spend the day at a waterpark, you may be swiping your credit card at SnappyScreen, a sun screen dispenser developed by Kristen McClellan ‘12 that aims to apply an even spray of sunscreen in 30 seconds. Next week, McClellan will travel to New York to present her idea to a panel of judges in the mtvU-New York Stock Exchange National Business Competition. The judges will pick one of three finalists selected from a pool of college students to win $25,000.     The MTVU show, Movers and Changers, in its second season, focuses on the competition, sponsored by MTVU and the New York Stock Exchange, and aims to uncover the nation’s next generation of entrepreneurs.Last week, McClellan was filmed walking around campus, presenting her project with Cornell in the background. “People were looking at me like I had 12 heads,” McClellan said.McClellan pursued her interest in entrepreneurship early on, starting a day-care center when she was 12-years-old that she said brought in $1,000 per week.She said she has been working on the SnappyScreen idea for three years. She first thought of the idea her freshman year, when looking for an idea to pitch at the Elevator Pitch Competition, sponsored by the Cornell Entrepreneurship Organization, where students get 30 to 90 seconds to pitch their idea. While brainstorming an idea, she though back to a time on the beach with her sister.“That summer me and my sister had been talking, and we’re both extremely pale,” McClellan said. “My sister asked,  ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could get into the pool an hour earlier because we just spent so much time putting on sunscreen inside beforehand so that we wouldn’t be streaky?’ And we thought that there had to be a way, because girls fake tan themselves so much. There’s got to be a way to distribute something like that.”She ended up coming in second in the Elevator Pitch competition to a graduate student, competing in a field of 20 finalists selected to present their ideas.“I pitched SnappyScreen at the Elevator Pitch, and I never thought I would pursue it,” McClellan said. McLellan was invited to use her idea to apply to the Cornell E-Lab, a group of entrepreneurs who work to develop their ideas over their time at Cornell, after they heard her pitch.Since McClellan pitched the idea, she has developed two prototypes using the same technology found in a spray-tanning booth. Her first one was a large tiki-style booth, which she improved and made into a two-foot by two-foot base, seven-foot tall structure that users can stand in front of. She spoke to professors at the Hotel School and an alumnus who owns a chain of hotels in the Caribbean, and they gave her suggestions, including a recommendation to improve the aesthetics. McClellan has already won $5,000 for being selected as a finalist in the Movers and Changers competition, and says she is shooting to win the $25,000 prize. “SnappyScreen is almost ready to be finalized, so the money would be huge,” she said.Her revenue model, which she says has been the hardest to develop and is not yet finalized,  will donate a certain percentage of each two to four dollar use of the machine to a melanoma research fund that will help prevent and treat skin cancers. The theme of this year’s Movers and Changers competition focuses on integrating the product with social networks, and her presentation will focus on efforts she has used to target Facebook groups, start a blog for the product and create check-in spots on Foursquare.“You need to get buzz about it before hand,” she said. “I’m trying to create an expectation for people to see it at hotels, so that they start to ask for it.”McClellan said that she will continue to develop her idea as a career and is balancing her GPA with real-world experience. “Every entrepreneur struggles with the idea of when to stop and when to keep going,” she said. “Right now I know that I want to pursue SnappyScreen … [and] everything is moving and its going well. When you’re working hard and it’s going well, you say that it’s okay that I didn’t finish that chapter or it’s okay that I didn’t do my laundry yet. But I try to keep it equal because I know I want to go to business school.”

Original Author: Juan Forrer