Fighting Breast Cancer and Protecting Quarterbacks: Summer Accelerator Allows Student Entrepreneurs to Advance Their Startups

Clark Bulleit ’19, Beryl Baldwin ’20, and Kevin Gehsmann ’19

The inaugural Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Summer Accelerator concluded last week, having helped Duke students and recent alums share their entrepreneurial spirit and drive to change the world.

Among these groups were Clark Bulleit (BME '19) and Kevin Gehsmann (ME '19), who played football for Duke and used their engineering background to create a brace for teammate Daniel Jones after he fractured his clavicle last September. They collaborated with the team's medical personnel and utilized the Innovation Co-Lab and other Duke resources to create a custom product that would maximize security and mobility—enabling the quarterback to return to the field in just three weeks. Based on that experience, the two cofounded Protect3d, which uses 3D-printing technology to create anatomically fitting padding designed to prevent and protect injuries. They're aiming to make this technology fast and affordable so it can be used in training rooms everywhere.

Beryl Baldwin ’20 had a breast cancer scare at age 23, leading her to her project exploring ways to normalize bodily self-awareness and self-care. She’s been working on a realistic model of a breast containing a tumor to teach young women to perform regular self-exams. Current models for doctors are expensive, some costing up to $500 each; Beryl is working to produce a discreet, low-cost product that can be distributed en masse and help shift the culture. She says the models have the added benefit of serving as stress-relief objects: “Whenever my friends come over, they’re like, ‘Do you have any boobs I can play with?'”

Read more about these projects during the Summer Accelerator and Protect3d in the Duke I&E feature.