SRU student won’t be caught napping on business venture


2017 Business Plan Competition participants and guests

John Golden, Slippery Rock University assistant professor for business; Frank Brogan, chancellor for the State System; Daniel Spiker, a junior math major from Fombell Township; Brandon Jovanovski, a junior business marketing major from Elwood City and student at Penn State Beaver; and SRU President Cheryl Norton at the 2017 Business Plan Competition.

April 26, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - When presented with downtime between classes, college students often take advantage of the opportunity to relax the body and mind.

Daniel Spiker, a Slippery Rock University junior math major from Fombell Township, has taken the idea one step further, believing that a midday power nap is the best way to "recharge the batteries" and set yourself up for success.

With that in mind, Spiker partnered with childhood friend Brandon Jovanovski, a junior business marketing major from Elwood City and student at Penn State Beaver, to design a product specifically crafted for fellow college students to grab a quick "40 winks."

Dubbed the Nap Pod, the device is a chair - similar to a recliner - with a protective light shield and an opening leg rest. The device also allows students to store their backpacks and textbooks inside.

"The purpose is to enclose the individual in a more relaxing environment and to block out some of the outside noise and light while you catch a few winks," said Spiker.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a brief 20-30-minute sleep significantly improves mood, alertness and performance while eliminating the grogginess of a long day. Iconic men such as John F. Kennedy, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill regularly partook in a "cat nap" for speedy rejuvenation.

Spiker and Jovanovski created rough sketches of the device four years ago, but then tossed the designs into a sock drawer. Only after seeing a poster for Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education's Business Plan Competition did the would-be inventors think to themselves, "Why not?"

Spiker and Jovanovski were one of more than 200 entries to present their idea at the State System's sixth annual conference in Harrisburg March 4. Teams were allotted 30 minutes to arrange a poster display and to speak with judges and sponsors about their business plans.

"We saw this as an extraordinary opportunity to have our company seriously critiqued and considered in the real business world," said Jovanovski.

So impressed with the duo's work, the judges forwarded them to the semifinal round, one of only seven entries to make the final cut.

"We were so astonished. I think it just affirmed that we were on to something after all," said Spiker.

Nathaniel Treichler, a Bloomsburgh University sophomore from Northampton, who developed an online fishing membership club designed to provide subscribers with "premium, world-class flies" delivered to their home each month has won the $10,000 first place prize in the competition.

He developed The Fly Crate to provide a convenient way for fishermen to purchase fly fishing flies and have them delivered right to their door. "Members pass all the worries and burdens of fly fishing on to us. No longer do anglers have to worry about matching the hatch or overspending for flies," Treichler wrote in his winning business plan.

Brianna Nellis of Clarion, who graduated from Clarion University last December, won the second place, $5,000 award in the competition, with her plan for Bri Nellis Photography. A team of students from West Chester University captured third place and the $2,500 award with Trainer Interactive, a software application that offers live, on-demand personal training sessions through Facetime or Skype.

Spiker and Jovanovski's placement into the final round so inspired the pair, they are currently corresponding with a number of manufacturers to discuss turning their product design into a reality.

Once funding is secured and the manufacturing process is underway, Jovanovski and Spiker hope that their nap pods will become permanent fixtures in university libraries and student centers across the country.

"When you have an idea that manifests itself into reality, you can really take pride in what you've accomplished," said Jovanovski. "I am so grateful to have been considered for such a prestigious and outstanding opportunity to make our ideas into a real cash-earning operation."

"We have always had ideas running through our heads since we were little kids. But this is something we really want to see through to the end. We're really excited about the progress we've made in just a few short years."

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