The Don Hackett Support for Entrepreneurialism Award, created by WSU alumnus Jeremy Conescu, removes financial barriers for young entrepreneurs as they get their startups off the ground.

The award dispersed fall of 2022 went to two student led ventures.

Alayna Boykin posed in front of a window showcasing a downtown area.

Alayna Boykin

Royal Glow Boutique

Channeling her passion for fashion, Alayna Boykin began pursuing her startup Royal Glow Boutique while attending Wichita State to get a bachelors in Engineering Technology-Facilities Management.

Alayna grew up seeing " in all the fashion pieces worn on all the fashion runways. The only problem was that the girls on the runway were either all white women or they were all skinny. They looked nothing like me." Acknowledging many people make purchases "...based on who looks like them and who they aspire to be," Alayna  began working to create a boutique that supports "... women of all shades, shapes, and sizes."

"There is a lot that goes into starting a business. One thing for sure is that having the funds definitely helps." The funding will enable Alayna to cover some of the costs associated with the early stages of her startup.

Mathew Tucker posed in front of a blackboard filled with equations.

Mathew Tucker

Piano Obscura

Amid striving to obtain his master’s in applied mathematics, Mathew Tucker found inspiration to make the Piano Obscura, an “…application that allows musicians to play their instruments using image recognition.”

The path to creating the Piano Obscura was not straight forward. Inspiration for the application came originally from a different project in which he “…turned a living bamboo plant into an electronic musical instrument.” From there, the project evolved into “…a program that can turn any environment into a piano…” With the suggestion that the program could have therapeutic applications, Tucker pivoted once more and began to consider how the program might be used to benefit people with disabilities or neurodegenerative diseases, like his grandmother. 

To bring Piano Obscura to Market, Mathew plans to use the fund to “…start the process of hiring the help needed to build the app; and, in doing so, I can start building the team needed to make my med-tech startup successful.”

The people involved in these ventures addressed very different market pains, and we look forward to seeing where their venture goes moving forward!