Posted May 10, 2019
With the help of Lorain County Community College (LCCC), alumna Ayrianna Lord created a floatation device business that allows people with mobility issues to swim independently. Lord recently reunited with her LCCC mentors to complete the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Sites program as part of the FreedomFloats team on April 12 at the Bounce Innovation Hub in Akron, Ohio.
The I-Corps Sites program, coordinated by the University of Akron Research Foundation, supports teams through a multi-meeting critical evaluation to help faculty, students and the community with new businesses by answering questions about business, product and technology ideas. Through I-Corps, “I learned how to build on my business model canvas using research-based strategies,” Lord said.
“Ayrianna is the first LCCC student to qualify for and complete the tech and entrepreneurship I-Corps program,” said Michael Morgenstern, director of advancement at LCCC, of the 22-year-old Brunswick resident. After completing her LCCC coursework last summer, Lord transferred to Herzing University in Akron as a nursing student in the accelerated program, with an expected graduation date of 2020.
During the Innovation Corps program, Regan Silvestri, Ph.D., served as the academic lead on Lord’s I-Corps team. He was happy to see her return to her roots to advance her business and connect with her mentors, he said. “I am thrilled to keep Ayrianna as part of the LCCC family after she has completed her studies here and transferred forward. She is a very special person on a special mission and I am confident that she is going to be very successful.”
“I admired Dr. Silvestri’s intellectual capabilities and devotion to his students. This drew me to meet with him a year later, introducing him to my invention and getting his take on what plastic polymer formulation would best suit my device’s needs,” Lord said.
With Silvestri as a professor, “I gained an education and lifelong mentorship,” Lord said. “Having professors so intelligent, dedicated and passionate about their students, allows me to confidently say, they will always be there for those currently enrolled and alumni.”
LCCC professor of accounting and entrepreneurship, Gerry McFadden, along with Lord’s fellow LCCC alumnus who earned a business administration degree from Kent State University through the University Partnership, Frank Root, rounded out Lord’s iCorps team, alongside Silvestri.
During orientation at LCCC, Lord originally came to NEO LaunchNET for help with her business idea. “NEO LaunchNET provided me the knowledge and resources I needed to begin planning my business. I met with Janice Lapina and Matthew Poyle and they helped me to establish my business and file for an LLC.” Last year she placed second in the NEO LaunchNET’s annual business competition.
Lord, who completed nursing prerequisites in 2018, created the business around the needs of her brother, Alexander, whose disabilities limit his mobility. “I believe that my brother and everyone like him should have the right to swim. My product solves this issue and ensures the safety of each user,” she said.
FreedomFloats offers “those who are differently-abled the right to safely enjoy life,” Lord said. The device allows people with special needs to safely engage in community aquatics. “I have always been drawn to the special needs community, spending every recess at school bonding with differently-abled friends and their caregivers,” she said. “This is a population I have always wanted to help, but I never knew how. The day my adopted brother came home with us, I realized what I wanted to do with my life – fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.”
Lord is currently working on two prototypes for FreedomFloats and pursuing a patent.