From college roommates to business partners, University of Connecticut students Brian Peng and Shivam Patel have a vision to make life more convenient for eyeglass wearers.
“We just want to create the perfect visual experience for glasses wearers,” Peng said.
Patel and Peng are the cofounders of ShadeSnap, a startup business that aims to improve transition lenses.
“Transition lenses are just glasses that turn from prescription glasses to prescription sunglasses with exposure to sunlight and our idea was to make that process manual,” Peng said. “It gives the user complete freedom to alter their visual experience.”
Both Peng and Patel used to wear transition lenses but stopped wearing them because of the inconvenience. They recounted walking into class and having to wait ten minutes for the lenses to fully transition back to regular prescription glasses.
“So you would be the person wearing sunglasses indoors for 10 minutes,” Peng said.
During the pandemic, the friends came up with the idea for ShadeSnap. The ShadeSnap glasses would allow the user to transition the lenses with the push of a button.
"With a snap so, ShadeSnap, it just rolls off your tongue,” Patel said.
Neither of the students have business experience. Patel is an engineering student and Peng studies biology, but they were passionate about their idea.
The students attended a startup pitch event hosted by UConn’s Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CCEI).
"CCEI'S mission is to be able to bring entrepreneurship into the forefront and for it to become accessible to anybody,” said Jennifer Mathieu, the center’s executive director.
Working with Mathieu, ShadeSnap participated in several more programs run by the CCEI. The students delved into research and developed a prototype.
“I knew the passion and excitement from both of the students was both that I often see in entrepreneurs who are really successful,” Mathieu said. “They have a problem they want to solve, they are really excited about the solution they are creating, but the most important thing is they are just curious.”
Peng and Patel were among five startups selected to compete for the chance to win $25,000 in seed money. The 2022 Wolff New Venture Competition, hosted by the CCEI, will be held on Oct. 3.
“That would be a huge amount to us. There are just so many things that this money would help us with in terms of accelerating our journey,” Peng said.
The students said it has been an intense journey so far, balancing their startup with their schoolwork.
"But I think if you are passionate about a certain thing, I think you make time and you have time to do what you are passionate about,” Patel said.
Get updates on what's happening in Connecticut to your inbox. Sign up for our News Headlines newsletter.