One Honors College student owes the idea for his Honors College Capstone Project to the occasion of his cousin's wedding in December 2017. Rather than buying the newlyweds a present, Yash Sanghavi wanted to give them a personalized, handcrafted gift. And thus, the idea for the Entractiv smart mirror was born. "I actually didn't end up gifting it to my cousin," Yash chuckles. "But that was the point where I realized there was a real need for this mirror in the market."
Entractiv's smart mirror integrates a mirror with a proprietary polycarbonate sheet with a UV-blocking film, which allows it to be both reflective and transmissive.
"Entractiv aims to empower users through intelligent reflection. Despite this being the Internet Age, mirrors haven't changed in over a hundred years,"
Yash explains. "What better time than the present, when we have smart hubs like Amazon's Alexa entering our homes and smart devices like fridges, light bulbs, and microwaves, to integrate into a technology-oriented ecosystem." The mirror provides day-to-day information like weather and suggests appropriate clothing, commute time and suggested routes, and your schedule, as well as information on how you can more proactively improve your health.
Yash, a senior at Rutgers Business School, realized that he needed to recruit team members to bring the product to life. He recruited three of his peers to divide the responsibilities: Sharuk Ozair and Mandev Singh (both '19, SOE), aerospace engineering majors with prior experience in developing hardware, and Farhat Alam ('19, SAS/HC/DRC), an Honors College student majoring in computer science. In order to facilitate collaboration within the group, they set up their roles so that two people partnered on each facet of the project. Recently, the team recruited Husain Vohra ('20, RBS), a junior majoring in supply chain management, to take on the role of CFO. The team also developed external support by creating a board of Rutgers professors from whom they could solicit advice and recommendations. From expertise in computer science to entrepreneurship to marketing, these professors represent a variety of Rutgers departments.
This isn't the first entrepreneurial venture for these students, two of whom have worked on other social innovation concepts born in the Honors College mission course, the Forum, and developed further in the Honors College sophomore Innovation Lab. Yash, CEO of Entractiv, previously worked on the HC Innovation Lab team rFIND to create a system for locating and tracking patients in emergency situations using RFID technologies. As a member of the HC Innovation Lab team Nutrivide, which developed a simple, effective solution that provides nutrients to malnourished infants, Entractiv CIO Farhat traveled to Chicago in October to attend Clinton Global Initiative University for the second consecutive year. Sharuk, COO of Entractiv, previously worked as a product engineer on Aersys, a start-up in the drone package distribution market currently in the product testing phase.
The team's new product targets two key customer groups: residential properties and the hospitality industry. While individuals can buy this for their homes, the hospitality industry (i.e. hotels) can use it to disseminate information about local events, nearby restaurants, and other activities to their guests. With direct foot traffic attracting more attention, guests will be able to view all of this information simultaneously rather than searching for things separately on their phone.
Currently in the data collection phase, the team attended three hospitality conferences in mid-November to do more research on the market to verify their business proposition and explore potential customers. "We've developed two prototypes," Mandev says. "Before continuing with a third, we're trying to build a deeper understanding of our customers' needs and then tailor the product from there."
The team's research has shown competitors in the smart mirror market already exist, although the team holds an advantage in terms of their pricing strategy and proprietary technology. "We're planning to charge around $300 for one mirror, while our competitors' products can rise into the thousands," Farhat says. By providing the same quality at a lower price, the team feels they will be able to penetrate the market.
Next steps for Entractiv? According to Sharuk, "We would like to launch more high tech options by integrating more software and further capabilities." Planning to incorporate into an LLC in the next two months and launch sometime in the next year, the team's goal is to gain profits before expanding the product line into more smart technology options for the home.
Learn more about Entractiv and the Honors College Capstone, a six-credit opportunity for students to dive into research, scholarly exploration, and experiential engagements. Instead of confining students to a traditional thesis, this capstone provides a variety of options for students to choose what fits their interests. The capstone is the last requirement for Honors College students to complete in order to graduate as an "Honors College Scholar."
To see this and other Honors College Capstone Projects, you are invited to attend the annual Honors College Capstone Showcase on April 12, 2019.