Tech-based entrepreneurship student's 'failure resume' inspires scooter project

Samantha Chavanic
November 17, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When Braden Heisler received a “failure resume” assignment for his ENGR 407: Technology-Based Entrepreneurship class, he took the project seriously, creating an “anti-resume” that listed all his presumed failures — from failed ideas to skills which he believes he lacks.

Like many of his classmates, Heisler, a junior majoring in industrial engineering, highlighted internship application rejections as self-defined failures. He specifically discussed two dismissed applications to the Tesla internship program in summer 2018 and 2019, sparking a conversation between Heisler, his classmates and course instructor Brad Groznik on why these rejections may happen.

Through this process, Groznik realized that many students may not know how to make themselves stand out during the application process. When he asked himself what he might do to attract Tesla’s attention, Groznik’s thoughts jumped to designing and building his own electric car as an application submission. After consulting with Ted Graef, director of engineering entrepreneurship, Groznik decided to challenge his students’ intrapreneurial mindset by asking them to create a new product not already in Tesla’s wheelhouse that would that set them apart — a scooter.  

In addition to designing the scooter, the student teams created competitive analyses, value propositions, launch strategies, funding requests — all things that require thinking beyond the design.

Illustrative design of Speeder S scooter

A team of five engineering students designed the Speeder S scooter as part of an ENGR 407: Technology-Based Entrepreneurship project. The team also created a competitive analysis, value proposition, launch strategy and funding request for this "new" Tesla product.

IMAGE: Image provided

“Entrepreneurship is a swiss army knife,” Groznik said. “You can’t only be good at engineering or accounting or marketing and be a successful entrepreneur. [ENGR 407] incorporates all the aspects it takes to turn ideas into businesses.”

Heisler and his team members Joe Gluzman, mechanical engineering junior; Corrine Dutkiewicz, mechanical engineering sophomore; Hamad Almarzooqi, aerospace engineering junior; and Tarrin Goldberg, biomedical engineering junior; applied these concepts to create a scooter design motivated by power and elegance.

“When you look at a Tesla product, it is sharp, luxurious and sporty,” Heisler said. “When you look at the current electric scooter and moped market, you don’t see those elements. Sure, some electric scooters may look sharp, but they don’t have the power or sport found with a moped.”

Heisler’s team worked to fill this market void by designing a product for its target audience — young professionals — to introduce them to the Tesla brand and build a relationship that may lead to future car sales. With the young professional in mind, the team added design features to allow the best functionality in a city. These include variable speed based on the scooter’s steering column position, adjustable seats, a handle on the back for easy transportation when folded, navigation and informational screen, internal storage and external storage for drinks and phones.

When modeling the scooter, the team was inspired by Tesla’s “Easter egg” designs on its vehicles. A 2018 tweet from Elon Musk, chief executive officer and product architect of Tesla, mentioned his love of the movie "Star Wars." A nod to the movies, the team pulled design inspiration from the speeder bike, as well as honoring it in their product’s name: The Speeder S. The team’s scooter also included Tesla branding in the design of its t-shaped handlebar.

As part of the project, Dutkiewicz analyzed Tesla product launches, sharing with the team how the company organizes and styles its launches. Heisler said the team applied similar styling to its presentation, highlighting the importance of a comprehensive presentation package — complete with competitive analysis, launch strategy and funding requisitions.

“We first defined our problem and introduced our target audience,” Heisler said. “We then transitioned into revealing the scooter and showcased specific dimensions. We finished with our launch and revenue projection. Designs themselves don’t sell. Designs with plans sell.”

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Last Updated November 17, 2020