New business manufactures and markets device that attaches to fishing nets and keeps whales, dolphins and seals out.
Five Kellogg M.B.A.'s recently won the MOOT Corp. International Entrepreneurial Challenge, an annual competition, held at University of Texas at Austin, among a dozen business schools worldwide. In the challenge students compete to come up with the best and most feasible growth-oriented business concept. The winning entry: Independence Marine, which will manufacture and direct-market products that help fishermen keep whales, porpoises, dolphins, and seals out of their nets. The first product -- still being tested for approval by U.S. and Canadian fisheries departments and expected to be rolled out next spring -- is a small noisemaking device called Whale Away. It attaches to a net and makes enough sound to alert whales to stay clear. John Hattery, 30, got the idea for the business last year when he read about a Newfoundland inventor named Jon Lien. Lien had developed a medieval-looking metal soccer-ball-shaped noisemaking device and was having trouble figuring out how to manufacture and market it cost-effectively. The five students -- all engineers specializing in manufacturing -- redesigned it and reduced the price from $250 to less than $40. Hattery projects first-year revenues for Independence Marine of $100,000 (mostly from the sale of test models), and $1.3 million in 1994 revenues.