Category: News & Information

Amanda Zicherman, BE23, Hen Hatch Winner

Navigating challenges with innovation

Finding your way around campus as a freshman can be hard enough. But couple that with ongoing construction and a physical disability that requires accessible routes, and the difficulty increases exponentially.

“It was my first  year on campus, so I had not yet learned which entrances or paths were accessible,” Amanda Zicherman, BE23, said. “This was compounded by there being a lot of construction going on and a lack of clear signage for alternative accessible routes or accessible entrances for people like me with physical disabilities. As I spoke with other students, I found out they had the same issue.”

Zicherman decided to turn the challenge into an opportunity.

She created Navigating Access, an active mapping platform meant to improve accessibility in communities and also raise awareness of accessibility issues. The ultimate goal is to have universities, cities and other businesses license the application to supply a map to end users to help them find accessible restrooms, entrances and routes.

As a double major in entrepreneurship and management with a minor in disability studies, Zicherman paired her personal experiences with her studies to create the startup. She entered the platform into Hen Hatch, UD's premier startup funding competition, and placed second in the pre-revenue track. The placement earned her cash prizes to help further explore a business model and ready the platform for public release.

“The Hen Hatch process really helps you define your startup because initially you just submit a written concept, but then you eventually have to do a live pitch,” Zicherman said. “In the finals you get one-on-one mentoring with a professor who helps you with messaging for the finals. Also, feedback from the judges throughout the process gives you different perspectives ,but also validated that this is something that is needed and that I should pursue.”

Hen Hatch is one of several donor-supported programs run by UD’s Horn Entrepreneurship. Horn provides a curricula that goes far beyond the classroom to cultivate the next generation of innovators, combining a personalized approach with lessons learned from successful entrepreneurs and evidence-based best practices. The entrepreneurial education opportunity was what first attracted Zicherman to the University, and it has continued to inspire and motivate her throughout her academic journey.

“I centered my college search around universities that offered entrepreneurship as a major, and when I found out about Horn, I knew UD was the place I wanted to study,” Zicherman said. “It’s a really great community and everyone—professors and students—are super supportive of each other. We have hands-on opportunities to practice what we learn in the classroom. There are endless ways for students to get involved with Horn and move their ideas to reality.”

To learn more about Horn Entrepreneurship at UD, visit here.

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