Student Stories

Learn more about the students and alumni who are actively engaged with CWRU LaunchNET

The following enterprises are in various stages of development.

Reimagined Athletics wants to break into the space of athletic enhancement using functional electrical stimulation on athletes to improve strength and overall athletic output. By utilizing sport-specific electrical stimulation through the use of a future novel device, Reimagined Athletics hopes to make a positive difference in athletes' overall skill levels. 

We interviewed Nick Petroze - Reimagined Athletics’ founder - who is a current graduate student at CWRU School of Medicine in the Regenerative Medicine and Entrepreneurship program.


Q: Tell me about yourself and the story behind your company.

[We’re trying to] bridge the gap between two things, and now I don’t care if I make a dollar off of this, I just want to build something really cool that I might use when I was 16. I might still use it now when I’m 23. I have a little brother who plays baseball and I tell him about this idea and he was like “Build it! Where is it at? Build it!” so it’s a wonderful opportunity to be here and to work with think[box] and LaunchNet.

This started over a year ago when we were thinking about this all the time, talking about it, having dinner together, and all of a sudden I’m here a year later. I’ve done a lot of growing as a person and had to take a lot of steps back because I was going so hard at this. [My mentors] helped me take a step back and now I feel really good checking boxes day by day.


Q: How did you find out about LaunchNET and LaunchNET’s microgrants?

Through Bob Sopko! I came to Case to continue studying Biology but the Entrepreneurship part was really cool because I knew I could learn about Biotech Entrepreneurship. So when I got here, I tried to network and met with Bob. We met and talked a couple of times and he told me I should try applying for the grant!


Q: How was LaunchNET able to assist you and your business?

[We were able to get] an electrical stimulation device and supplies for our pilot study to prove our theory, see what we’re missing in the technology, and determine the direction where we can take this with student-athletes, all the way from high school to professionals. 


Q: If you could give a piece of advice to yourself before you started your business, what would it be?

I wish I knew how much time it was going to take. I was young, and [I thought] I could get this done in a year, but you can’t though, especially going into working with humans. That’s something I didn’t understand when I thought I was going to go really far really fast. So if I can go back I would tell myself it’ll take some time, and it’s going to be stressful but it’s going to be fun. And that’s what I’m learning, that it’s stressful but it’s a lot of fun.

Also, don’t get caught up in percentages and equity with your co-founders. You might come up with an idea and you’re saying “you get 45 I get 55”. There’s a lot more that goes into it than just having an idea and showing up. There’s a lot of work in the background that a lot of people don’t see. So do your part, have fun, enjoy it, and you’ll reap the benefits no matter what side you’re on.


Reimagined Athletics is looking for electrical engineers! If you’re interested and want more information, contact Nick Petroze at or



Medical students Nicholas Bank and Garrett Brittain founded Schools for Slowing the Spread Inc. (SSS) when the Covid-19 pandemic started. Now, SSS has been rebranded to become the GEARx Foundation. 

We interviewed Nicholas (Nick) Bank - GEARx President and Co-founder - who is a current MS4 student at CWRU School of Medicine.


Q: Tell me about yourself and the story behind your company.

We started as Schools for Slowing the Spread Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit organization that aimed to promote facemask utilization and good social hygiene during the Covid-19 pandemic. To do this, we organized dozens of facemask fundraising events with students  around the country using branded facemasks for their schools. As the pandemic has since waned, we've shifted our focus to fundraising using popular 'healthwear' items (fleece jackets, scrubs, etc), and our rebranding to GEARx reflects this change. 


Q: How did you find out about LaunchNET and LaunchNET’s microgrants? How was LaunchNET able to assist you and your business?

[We found out] through an email notification I believe. [LaunchNET’s microgrant] has allowed us to explore and discover new and effective ways to connect with our target audience.


Q: If you could give advice to your past self (think back to 1 year), what would it be?

What advice would you give to a student interested in their own startup?

I am a frugal individual, and while fiscal responsibility is certainly important to the long-term health of a business, being hesitant to deploy funds on research and development absolutely stifles growth. I would tell my past self to have more confidence pulling the trigger on business-related expenses when there's a reasonably expected return on investment.

To a student interested in their own startup: 2 things. 1) Minimum viable product. Get it to market and refine it as you go. Nothing is a better proof of concept than early evidence that people will pay for your product/service. It is the ultimate litmus test. 2) Momentum is a very real and invaluable asset to a startup. Every milestone, sale, grant, etc. Compounds on the previous and serves as proof of your product/business and why someone should buy/invest in you. 


Q: Where do you see your startup in 5 years?

In 5 years we aim to be a leading supplier of premium healthwear apparel for professional students across the country.

GEARx is actively recruiting students for leadership positions! For more information, email Nick at or visit their website at

Two young Asian men wearing read sweaters and black pants. (Danny on the left and Michael on the right)

Q: Tell me about yourself and the story behind your company.

Daniel: [Michael and I] met in college and became friends during admitted students week. We were both premed students, so we overlapped a lot in that aspect. But when we were getting closer to graduation in 2022, we just kind of talked one night and came up with a business.

Michael: So essentially I was trying to work on some Amazon e-commerce sites and I have connections back in China regarding the manufacturing of specific products so I wanted to jump in on that, but Covid really messed everything up and everything fell through. And then Daniel had a business idea. I said, “Alright, let’s start this business now”. We stayed up quite late and wrote a plan and started from there.


Q: How did you find out about LaunchNET and LaunchNET’s microgrants?

Michael: It was when I was in my freshman year. Initially, before I was premed, I was fully concentrated on business management and entrepreneurship. I pitched my initial idea to Victoria Avi (LaunchNET’s former Program Manager), and she helped me out very early on at that stage. However, that didn’t go through, and then in junior year, we started [Redheart]. We talked to Bob a lot in the beginning, we were also subscribed to the LaunchNET newsletter and essentially got updates through that.


Q: How was LaunchNET able to assist you and your business?

Daniel: When we talked to Victoria, she was really there to be that third eye for us. Like we said, we came up with that business plan in that one night. And one of our biggest learning lessons from the beginning was learning to pivot because you might not always be able to stick to your original business plan. So through talking with Bob, he connected us with other members of the community, who could give us better insights, whether they were affiliated with the specific industry that we’re in or not. That gave us the information we lacked, especially we were so young and doing this during and straight out of college and didn’t have any experience in the industry we were going into.


Q: If you could give a piece of advice to yourself before you started your business, what would it be?

Michael: Just do it. We’ll have to plan out everything, but I think the biggest thing is to take action and not be afraid of taking that risk, because you’ll learn a lot regardless. That’s something I still struggle with today, but at the end of the day, if you work hard, success will come eventually, so try not to stress too much.

Daniel: I still struggle a lot with that too, but if you’re going to do it, enjoy the process, make sure you know you’re doing business for the right reasons. On top of that, personally, I always thought I was going to be premed, and this business idea that I pitched to Michael was something that I had when I was 16-17 years old and I had always pushed it aside for various reasons, including just being scared and being in the unknown. So If I were to look back and advise myself, I’d say, similar to what Michael said, take action and really nail your plan. The way Michael and I always structure our business is that we take risks, because that’s the nature of business. But we like to say that we take calculated risks.


Q: So Daniel, which was the turning point for you? At what point did you start thinking, oh I want to do this and I need to start doing this?

Daniel: It’s funny because like I said, I was cultivating this idea since 16 years old, but in my mind it was always “No, this is not for me. Someone else will do it. There’s so many people in this world that will do it.” But it was that night when Michael came over and we got to know each other. He was very into entrepreneurship so he gave me that outside perspective and that extra push that I needed to overcome that mindset. So it really was that night, late August of 2021, our third year at Case and that fall we started to pursue it, all the way through spring, then we graduated and we’ve been continuing this business full time since then.


Q: Where do you see yourself and your startup in the near future, say 5 years?

Daniel: That’s an interesting question, because Michael and I talk about that quite frequently. But I think we’ve come to learn the whole mentality of being able to pivot that we mentioned earlier. It’s hard to say exactly, but we like to take things step by step rather than looking at where we want to be in 5 or 10 years and quantifying huge goals. We like to take small calculated steps and hope that it adds up and see where that takes us later. But in the grand scheme of things, we would love to see our mission being able to impact our local communities and even on a greater scale.


Q: Anything last thing you want to share with us and our community?

Michael: For me, entrepreneurship is very scary and uncertain, but at the same time, that’s where the joy and fun is.

Daniel: Yeah, just go for it. You only have one life and one chance, and you know, we’re really lucky because we’re young and have less obligations compared to some other people that we see doing business. So it really is a good time to start!

Check out Redheart’s website here:

Connect with Michael at: and Daniel at: 


Founded by CWRU LaunchNET student Akissi Ange Dominique Yao and her co-founders Leaticia Kouassi and Anne Murielle N’gotta, Escargots Kaïy was born by the need to minimize the impact of snail poaching in Côte d’Ivoire.

Escargot is a booming market with usage in the food and health/beauty industry. Dominique and her co-founders knew that through their combined knowledge of sustainable farming and market research, that they could find a sustainable alternative to the demand for snails and lessen the environmental impact of poaching and deep forest harvesting and lessen the economic impact for the communities living in Côte d’Ivoire.

With support from Burton D. Morgan Foundation and the CWRU LaunchNET microgrant, they were able to build their first snail habitat (called escargotieres), and are planning their first round of breeding. This first step has given them the confidence, motivation, and opportunity to create a lasting impact in their home country and the world.

When asked to give advice to future entrepreneurs, Dominique said, “First thing is to validate the need. You might have an idea, but it might not always have a need in your community. Make sure you do your research, and research to find the resources you will need to reach your goal.”

In the next 5 years, Escargots Kaïy wants to move to a green house model and create larger facilities to accommodate more snails. They also have a goal of reaching the export market to the diaspora, US, Europe and offer a larger range of snail products.

You can learn more by contacting Akissi Ange Dominique Yao directly through email ( or LinkedIN