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Enterprising Hiram Graduate Finds Balance

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Hiram – Justin Lonis is the founder of Justimagine, LLC, located in his hometown of Mentor, OH. The company’s first product is the Advanced Balance Board, which was developed by Lonis as a senior project while he was still a student at Hiram College. The idea was born after Lonis, a 6’6” basketball forward at Hiram College, injured his ankle. Essentially, his design consists of a balance platform with an LCD display that shows the number of touches, or times the platform tips, in a given time period. His innovative product aids in lower body stability testing, ankle stability, and rehabilitation. A recent Hiram College graduate, Lonis won first place in the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) this month.

His idea and resulting business plan earned first place at Hiram’s IdeaBuild Competition, and third place at the regional competition. He earned first place at the GSEA in Cleveland. Following his mom’s advice, he is trying to retain as much equity in his company as possible. He’s currently in the prototype phase of his invention — or as he stated, “It’s more selling a dream than a product.” He estimates that the prototype is 90% complete, and he plans to show a completed prototype at the next round of competition in early November. Potential users of his product include orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, and athletic trainers.

As a part of the Cleveland competition, Lonis was thrilled to be a part of the sold-out Thrive event, sponsored by the Cleveland Entrepreneurs’ Organization earlier this month. The event featured Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. “Just being in the competition gave me access to over 300 entrepreneurs. The insights they provided made it the most valuable experience for me.” It also gave Lonis the chance to play Air Combat — co-piloting an actual fighter plane flying over Lake Erie — and manning the controls during simulated dogfights. “It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done!” he beamed. Lonis reinvested his prize winnings into his company, and will move on to compete in the US Nationals in Chicago next month. A victory in Chicago would qualify Justin for a chance at the title of Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year (GSEA) in April 2015 in Washington, DC.

Justimagine, LLC currently holds three USPTO provisional patents and has working relationships with local area colleges, hospitals, sports teams and entrepreneurial agencies. More advanced versions of the initial product may be used to help quantitatively diagnose concussions. But Lonis admits that his biggest challenge is simplifying his “elevator pitch” — the 30-second summary of his product for potential investors or buyers of his product. “It’s a huge challenge for me. My goal is to break it down in a way that even my eight-year-old brother, Mikey can understand.”

The GSEA (Global Student Entrepreneur Awards) is a global competition hosted by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) for students who own and operate businesses while attending high school or college. During the competitions, nominees like Justin compete against their peers from around the world. With more than 1,700 competitors from more than 20 countries, EO GSEA is an awesome opportunity for student entrepreneurs to make connections, find resources, and grow their businesses.

The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) is a global network of more than 10,000 business owners in 46 countries. They strive to inspire students to entrepreneurship by showcasing undergraduate business owners through the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA).