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SNAP, Sol Cover brainchildren receive funding


November 13, 2007

Two Polytechnic student teams are receiving financial backing from the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative. Community SNAP of AZ led by Erin Meehan and Sol Cover led by Michael Zajas were among the 15 ASU student venture awardees for 2007-2008.

The Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative rewards innovative ideas for both business products and social goods or services by providing funding, office space, training, mentoring and networking.

For Meehan, animals play a big role in her life. So this senior in the applied biological sciences program in the School of Applied Arts and Sciences, developed Community SNAP (Spay and Neuter Assistance Project) of AZ, a non-profit company which provides low- and no-cost spay and neuter services for low-income communities. Meehan focuses on battling the overpopulation of feral cats and aggression in dogs by providing sterilization services as an alternative to euthanasia.

“We are working hard to improve the lives of animals and the people who care for them,” said Meehan. “We are building healthier communities.”

Zajas, a business administration senior in the Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness, wanted to find a better way to keep pools warm to extend the swimming season. He and his father, Paul, an ASU alumnus, developed the Sol Cover, an innovative pool cover designed to regulate water temperature. Zajas’ design integrates alternative energy by using solar power to heat the pool, extending the swimming season by up to seven weeks.

“Harnessing solar energy is the way of the future,” Zajas said. “We want to be part of this new and growing market.”

The Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative awards ASU students $200,000 per year in combined funding for such ventures. This assistance is made possible by the financial investment of $5.4 million in 2004 from Orin Edson, a life-long boater who began a marine craft business in his garage which he grew into Bayliner Marine Corporation. Edson is now listed as one of Forbes Magazine’s top 400 wealthiest Americans.

Meehan and Zajas plan to graduate in spring 2008. Meehan’s current focus is market research and revision of a business plan. Community SNAP of AZ is presently seeking members for the Board of Directors, as well as tax exempt status from the IRS. Zajas hopes to develop a prototype of the Sol Cover by the end of the year, to secure a manufacturer and introduce his product into the market.

For additional information about student ventures at ASU and the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative, visit http://studentventures.asu.edu/.