Christine Dodson, a member of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) class of 1988, realized that as a working mom, there was not always an ideal location for women to breastfeed. This inspired her to co-found Mamava, a business that “designs lactation suites for breastfeeding moms on the go, making the world a friendlier place for women to breast pump or breastfeed,” according to the Mamava website.
Dodson returned to UNH on October 4 to be inducted into the Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, part of the second annual ceremony, because innovative ideas like Dodson’s are what UNH Entrepreneur Center (ECenter) Director Ian Grant looks for in UNH alumni to induct into the Hall of Fame.
The specific criteria to be inducted are that they have to be a UNH alum; they had to have either founded, cofounded, or owned a business; and they have given back to their community in some way. The five inductees this year included Dodson, Joe Faro ‘91, Thomas Hazel ‘95, Les Hiscoe ‘87, and Harry Patten ‘58.
The Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, organized by ECenter Associate Program Manager Allison Bell, began in 2018 with a “generous gift from an anonymous alumni donor.” Grant said in a speech that night that over 10,000 UNH alumni have founded, co-founded or run their own businesses and this is where the idea for a hall of fame came from.
The night started off with Grant giving a speech welcoming the inductees and the other attendees, and explaining what the ECenter is. He said that the purpose of the ECenter is to help students with ideas and to “help them take that idea to the next level.” He said that many students consider the ECenter a second home.
In his speech, Grant also explained the symbolism of the award that was given to each of the inductees. It was a hand-blown glass water droplet, which represented the process of starting a business that starts with “one drop of a good idea.”
When Grant introduced the inductees, he gave them a question to answer in their acceptance speech. Each of the five inductees had three minutes to explain a problem they saw in today’s world and how they thought UNH could take part in solving it.
Each of the five alumni brought up a different problem and a way that they thought it could be solved. Dodson, the only female inductee this year, talked about the struggles of new mothers in the workplace. Faro, chief food taster and founder for Tuscan Brands LLC, discussed the “huge divide between the academic world and the business world” and how to connect them more. Hazel, founder, chief technical officer and chief scientist at CHAOSSEARCH, talked about his experiences at UNH and said that something he’d noticed over the years was “a common thread woven by uncommon people” and that those “uncommon” people coming together to solve problems was where those good ideas came from. Hiscoe, chief executive officer (CEO) of Shawmut Design and Construction, talked about the decrease in productivity in construction and what could be done about that.
“She’s saving the ocean one bikini at a time,” Chairman of the Board and CEO of National Land Partners LLC Harry Patten said in reference to his daughter’s business selling bathing suits made out of fishing nets,
The five 2019 inductees, along with the five inductees from 2018, are the beginning of a new tradition at UNH that could inspire more students throughout the years.