After a month spent volunteering at the Moria Refugee Camp in Greece in 2019, Haley Zimmerman, a founder in the Master of Business Creation (MBC) program at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business, knew what she wanted her undergraduate senior thesis to be.
“I wanted to focus on refugees and be able to create a product that was not only just something cool, but it was also something that would impact the world for the better,” she said.
Inspired by her experience at the camp and drawn to humanitarian work, Zimmerman spent the last year developing a prototype of her product: an inflatable baby bed designed for infants 0 to 8 months old. A lightweight, waterproof cover creates a soft lounger for the baby, and both materials can be packed into a carrying case roughly the size of a football. Altogether, everything weighs less than one pound.
“There are similar products on the market, but nothing as lightweight, portable, and easy to use. As I did my research, this was something I felt parents in general could use,” Zimmerman said.
Now, with a BFA in industrial design, Zimmerman is the founder and CEO of Haven Rest and is continuing to develop her company and product in the MBC program. The program is provided by the Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy at the David Eccles School of Business, in partnership with the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute. It provides broad instruction and support for entrepreneurs as they launch through a nine-month program.
Zimmerman’s short-term goals include addressing safety concerns with the inflatable bed by working with the Consumer Safety Product Commission and sourcing the safest, highest quality materials.
Although she has a background in sewing and product design, Zimmerman had never worked with inflatables before Haven Rest. The prototyping stage took hours of work at a time before the design was ready for life-size models.
Find this article and a lot more in the 2021 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.