Our student entrepreneur of the month is Allyn Lottouzee, a senior at UWM pursuing his bachelor’s degrees in Conservation & Environmental Sciences and Political Theory. Get to know more about Allyn and his startup in his interview with MJ Pratt-Tooley, Innovation Intern at the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center.
MJ: Could you tell us a bit about your startup, AirbnBike?
Allyn: AirbnBike supplies your favorite vacation residences with bikes and equipment so you can enjoy your stay with clean and accessible transportation. This was inspired by my vacation in San Diego where two bikes were included with our stay. I am currently conducting customer discovery with surveys of users, emails to Airbnb, and calls to regional bike shops.
MJ: What has your entrepreneurial journey looked like? How did you get to where you are now?
Allyn: I had ideas for business and societal innovation before returning to school in 2019, but felt trapped in my head. I stumbled upon the UWM Startup Challenge while looking for a student org dedicated to environmental sustainability. I met Nathaniel Stern – a remarkably memorable and inviting person – and only felt more welcome as I continued meeting more mentors and participants.
I spent 2020 honing some of my ideas. Dr. Stern sponsored my idea (Bokses) for reusable boxes as a design challenge for his Product Realization course, which produced both 3D modeled and physical prototypes. I attended Startup Challenge boosters and meetups, engaged in countless customer discovery calls, a few pitch competitions, and am still actively prototyping and narrowing the needs of potential clients within our current market structure.
MJ: How has becoming a University Innovation Fellow impacted your work/plans?
Allyn: Completing the extensive training of the University Innovation Fellows program has enhanced my appreciation and understanding of the innovation and entrepreneurial resources available on campus. It’s astounding to see how much progress has been made in this sector over the last decade. Becoming a Fellow has reordered my priorities toward prototyping and design as a continual, exhaustive, and necessary component to successful innovation. Further, the program has reiterated the process of thinking BIG while starting small. In short, it has helped push closer to “doing” rather than “ideating.”
MJ: How can people join in, get involved, or help out?
Allyn: I need YOU! My current projects are lofty, expensive, and require interdisciplinary collaboration. I am actively seeking motivated individuals from materials engineering to (web) design to supply chain management and marketing, and everywhere in-between. I believe it’s time for substantial changes to our disposable footprint, and you can be a primary factor in a transition to sustainable culture.
“My life goal is to create an eco-city supplied by desalinated water in regions of ecological emaciation.”
Allyn came to the UWM Startup Challenge with over a dozen business ideas, but decided to focus on one to start out (reusable to-go containers made of recycled glass). He pivoted to Bokses, which focused on fixing the packaging loop in supply chains by using reusable boxes.
While waiting for physical prototypes for Bokses, Allyn is staying busy with developing AirbnBike, the McNair Scholars Program, applying to graduate school, working on projects with his UIF cohort, completing research on a composting system of his own design, and participating as the Chair of the Green Fund Allocation and Mentorship Committee.
Allyn Lottouzee is a thoughtful and deeply passionate entrepreneur seeking to build a better, more sustainable, world. To help support Allyn’s growing startup, check out his LinkedIn and watch his pitch here. Or, reach out to him directly at email@example.com – in Allyn’s words “don’t be shy – fortune favors the bold”.