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Friday, May 17, 2024

After having trouble finalizing his product, Keith Basik reached out to his friends in UF’s Warrington College of Business.

“At the time, I was a one-man show,” Basik said, but he said he wanted help figuring out the last details of the FlipTowel, a microfiber towel attached to a wristband.  

The Naples, Florida, resident began working with graduate students from the Entrepreneurial and Innovation Center at the Warrington College of Business in January. The team of graduate students worked with Basik for months, going through different options for packaging and surveys. And today, Basik’s Kickstarter page, through which interested buyers can pre-order his product, launches.

“I just wanted to bounce ideas — marketing ideas, branding ideas, product ideas — off of someone,” Basik said. “They totally redid the packaging.”

Ted Astleford, the director of Experiential Learning Programs at UF, was able to match the graduate students with Basik for a course he teaches called Entrepreneurship Consulting Project.  

“I get a bunch of people who request projects, and I organize these projects, and I coach the students through them,” Astleford said. “It’s a two-credit course that the students take.”

Usually graduate business students taking the course help entrepreneurs with projects, but others can get involved by reaching out to Astleford.

Basik’s product, the Flip Towel, was something Astleford felt his students would benefit from working on.

“Keith’s project just seemed like a cool, tangible new product that you can wrap your head around and that the students can grasp and would have a good time working on it,” Astleford said.

The students were randomly matched with Basik depending on what their schedules permitted.

“I don’t let students choose projects based on their interest, and that’s on purpose,” Astleford said. “I want students to work on something that they would never choose.”

After meeting in January, Basik and the five students worked together on the Flip Towel for two months.

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Basik, who originally came up with the idea four years ago, said he was excited to get younger minds involved in his project.

Maggie Maguire, 22, who graduated from UF in May, was one of the students who helped Basik finalize the Flip Towel.

With the other students, they conducted surveys to see how the public would react to the product. The surveys were used to decide which age groups would be more likely to purchase the Flip Towel. They also used the surveys to determine which activities people would be more inclined to use the product for.

“It was all online,” Maguire said. “We put it on all of UF’s different Facebook groups.”

The data found in these surveys was then used to finalize the product, including the size of the towel and the color.

The students were able to help Basik finalize his product and even help with the branding of the product on social media.

Maguire said she enjoyed collaborating with other students on Basik’s product.

“It was all a really cool experience for me,” she said. “A lot of people don’t realize how unique that class is.”

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