Long, a Business and Honors student, started with the school’s Accelerator Program in August, culminating in a Shark Tank-style pitch program called “Trout Tank” in late November.
“We had that in the University [Center] theater, and pitched not only to community members, but high net-worth individuals, venture capital firms, things of that nature, in order to take our product from vision to a venture-ready investment,” Long said. “I was renting office space [in ICELab] for a couple of months before the program started and heard about it through the grapevine.”
Thanks to his involvement in the ICELab and accelerator program, Long had access to business mentors, manufacturers, accountants and marketers.
“The 12-week segment was a real push to get from the idea stage to a product,” Long said.
His company Elemental Drying Systems was born from Long’s time as a ski racer on the East Coast.
“I was travelling every weekend, staying in a different hotel, a different place … everything was always wet, and it started to be not as fun as it could’ve been,” Long said.
From that experience, he wanted a portable drying system that could dry ski gear quickly and efficiently. However, after working with the accelerator program, Long diversified his business and plans to market his product to firefighters. Firefighters often have to jump from scene to scene, and if their gear is still wet from washing or from previous use, any contact with heat could lead to serious steam burns. With the Elemental Drying systems, firefighting gear can dry exceptionally quickly.
“[The program] helped speed this process up,” Long said. “I not only found employees, but all kinds of help that was really critical.”
Long plans to finalize his prototype and get an industry certification for his product. He hopes to start production of the Elemental Drying System by May.
Story and photos by Mason Albrechtson.