SHS senior Ester Baeks new invention could save lives

SHS Senior Ester Baek

Elisa Uguccini

SHS Senior Ester Baek

Angeli Thompson, Editor in Chief

Imagine celebrating your 21st birthday at a bar or club, drinking with friends and having a great night. Getting roofied would be a last thought for some individuals. Not for Solon High School senior Ester Baek.

About 1 in 13 college students in a new study from three U.S. campuses report having been drugged, or suspect that they were drugged. Drink spiking, or adding drugs to a person’s drink without their knowledge or consent, can lead to sexual assault and injuries. So Baek created something in hopes of lowering that number.

First prototype example photo of the BraceLit.

The invention is called the BraceLit, which is a bracelet with a charm that detects if there is a foreign substance in a beverage. After being dipped in the drink once for a few seconds and taken out, if the charm flashes red, it is a sign the drink has been contaminated. If it stays white, there is no sign of contamination. The charm only needs to be replaced when it flashes red. If it stays white it can be used again.

Baek’s main reason for creating the BraceLit was because of all the stories she’s heard of people getting roofied and taken advantage of.

“It’s [just] disheartening,” Beak said. “I decided I wanted to make a change that’s greater than just posting about it and saying ‘stop doing this, stop doing that.’ I wanted to actually step forward and help.”

Baek got her start in SHS Robert Stircula’s entrepreneurship class. Entrepreneurship is a College Credit Plus (CCP) class offered at SHS through the University of Iowa. The class not only consists of entrepreneurship preparation and business plans, but also doing pitches and participating in different field trips.

One project students do at the end of the year is a business plan for a product they come up with.

“Ester’s idea was the BraceLit,” Stircula said. “She sold a lot of them at Kent State University. So far she’s won the University of Iowa’s National Business [Elevator] Pitch Challenge. Currently she’s in the top 10 in the Veil Entrepreneurship Challenge, which has prize winnings up to $8000. We also have EJ Taylor in it with his idea as well, so we have two of the top ten.”

Stircula stated Baek and SHS senior Edward Taylor have been lead presenters throughout the class. Not only has Baek created a winning invention, but so has Taylor. Taylor wants to help students who are struggling with the college recruitment process, in hopes to make it easier for students in the future.

“I created an app,” Taylor said. “[That is similar to] a statistics website that makes it easier for athletes and fans of college recruiters to gain the athlete’s business inquiries, stats, phone numbers, videos, everything the athlete wants to put out for the recruiter to get in touch [with them]. It makes it easier because it’s all in one area, all in one app, and it takes a creative spin on how you actually acquire the information.”

Being one of the two students in the top 10 Veil Entrepreneurship challenge, Taylor expressed that executing the pitches for his idea have been hard, but the more he does it, the better he becomes.

When asked about Beaks’ invention, he felt it was a great idea.

“It’s gonna help a lot of people, especially women in college,” Taylor said.

College campuses have piqued an interest for Baek, claiming how her main goal is to get her BraceLit around college campuses.

“That’s my biggest target,” Baek said. “Obviously there’s other targets like restaurants in general. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, there’s still restaurants where you get served open mouth drinks, and it’s still risky.”

Baek claimed her main source of income for the product would be selling the BraceLit online and through retail, places like Target or Walmart, even local drug stores. She said she would start off selling the product online, then branch off into smaller retail stores and companies who would be able to advertise it further.

“Originally I was going to price it at $10.99 because I really wanted it to be competitive, so $10.99 would be the price of the BraceLit and six charms,” Baek said. “But then Mr. Stircula was like ‘come on Ester, bump that price up,’ so I think we ended up doing $20 even.”

Baek’s invention was not only recognized at college campuses, some staff members at SHS have reached out to Baek regarding the BraceLit, telling her they would like to buy her product.

“They have come up to me and told me ‘if you ever need someone to test it out or give you reviews then I’m the person to call, I’ll test it out for you,’” Baek said.

She explains how having the staff members help her out is an option but not her main focus. In order to get prepared for pitching products to others, Stircula has been helping Baek, as well as other students through taking the class.

“[To get students prepared] we go through the business model canvas style, which is basically a quick version to get the business running,” Stircula said. “It’s just an idea base, throwing post-its up trying to get your value proposition, getting your customers, figuring out your target markets. It’s just kind of a brainstorming session to get your business up and running, then writing a business plan to gather some investors later down the road.

“It’s basically teaching you the basics of entrepreneurship, the marketing aspect, the financial aspect, so it’s the whole ‘how to run a business,’” Stircula said. “And while doing that, we do a ton of pitching and a lot of presentations. It’s almost like a public speaking class.”

When taking the class, Baek expressed how Stircula was the most impactful teacher shes had, and he truly pushed her to do her best. She feels taking his class would help other people with their ideas.

“He was the one that told me in the beginning it was a great idea,” Baek said. “His class would help other people because the class is built to let students be creative to work on what they want to do. It will absolutely help any and everyone be pushed in the right direction in terms of business or products they want to build on.”