Kettering University is fueling entrepreneurship by providing the tools, materials and office space necessary to launch the business endeavors of current students and recent graduates.
“Everything about TracEye is made on campus except the suction cup,” Kevin Kral '14 said.
Kral is the founder of Kalderra Technologies through which he produced TracEye - a secure and stabilizing case for smart phones intended to help race car drivers record their races. The case allows smartphones to be a competitor to GoPro cameras with a few more benefits. The TracEye in combination with a smart phone has an advantage over GoPro because it allows users to instantly watch and share their videos over social networks without connecting to a computer.
Also, Kral asserts that his creation is more permissible for recording as users are already acclimated with their phones which saves the learning curve necessary to use another product.
Right now, Kral is marketing the product as a tool for race car drivers but its utility can also extend to skiers, snowboarders, skateboarders or anyone else interesting in recording their actions efficiently.
“There are definitely uses beyond on the racing community but the reason I’m focusing on that is because I know that community,” Kral said.
Kral grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and discovered Kettering through a university phone-a-thon that prompted him to visit the campus in Flint.
“I knew it the was the right place for me,” Kral said. “It was the co-op program, the small size and hands-on education.”
Kettering complemented Kral’s passion and experience for vintage racing. It also helped augment the entrepreneurial mindset that he developed at the dealership where his father served as the director of service.
“The entrepreneurial mindset, the idea of owning your own business and creating your own product were things that were always around me,” Kral said. “It’s something that’s always been in the back of my mind.”
Kral graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering but began the prototype for TracEye during his senior year of high school as a way to record his own races.
“I started getting into racing cars at high school and it got to a point where I wanted to record my own videos but didn’t want a GoPro,” Kral said. “So I just developed a model where I could mount my phone on my dashboard to record. The initial prototype was very successful for recording my own races.”
Right away, Kral knew the product had potential but didn’t have the capabilities to bring it to market until he arrived at Kettering.
Kral joined the Kettering Entrepreneur Society (KES) as a freshman. He was a part of the leadership team as a sophomore and was the president of the society for four terms after that.
Although he had the prototype and the idea for TracEye, Kral wasn’t sure how to manufacture and scale it for delivery to market so he opened up his idea to KES to get feedback on different variants of the product and the end customer base.
“How do you start the idea? What kind of sales do you need to just cover the cost of tooling? Those were a lot of the conversations that went on at that early stage,” Kral said.
The T-Space in the C.S. Mott building on campus has makerspace and hacker tools for students to use to develop ideas. So Kral designed a virtual development process from a set of technical drawings. The laser cutter in the T-Space is his primary tool and lies across the room from his permanent office in the building. The T-Space is helping Kral bring his product to market and he feels that it can do the same for other Kettering innovators and inventors.
“The T-Space is a great opportunity for all students,” Kral said. “The different things they can do and be creative with – it’s really a great space It’s been exciting to watch it grow.”