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Sophomore heads to BIG EAST Startup Challenge for his light-up headphones

Kevin+O%27Finn+created+his+light+up+headphones+with+help+from+the+707+Hub.+%0A%0APhoto+by+Autumn+Hirchert
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Sophomore heads to BIG EAST Startup Challenge for his light-up headphones

Kevin O'Finn created his light up headphones with help from the 707 Hub. 

Photo by Autumn Hirchert

Kevin O'Finn created his light up headphones with help from the 707 Hub. Photo by Autumn Hirchert

Kevin O'Finn created his light up headphones with help from the 707 Hub. Photo by Autumn Hirchert

Kevin O'Finn created his light up headphones with help from the 707 Hub. Photo by Autumn Hirchert

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Kevin O’Finn, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences and creator of the first light-up wireless headphones, is heading to New York City March 16 to pitch his product Headphones+ to a panel of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and BIG EAST alumni.

Marquette is sending O’Finn to represent the university in the first-ever BIG EAST Startup Challenge, a competition for entrepreneurs where they are able to pitch their ideas and compete for money. Each institution in the conference will be sending a team of up to four undergraduate entrepreneurs. The competition is one day long and each entrepreneur has five minutes to pitch their idea. The top three teams will receive an honorarium to assist in development of their ideas. The honorarium amount has yet to be disclosed. 

“Since it’s just me and Headphones+, I’ll be the only student over there,” O’Finn said.

Though O’Finn will be the only student pitching his business idea, Marquette faculty and alumni, as well as the Marquette men’s basketball team will be there. 

In preparation for the BIG EAST Startup Challenge, O’Finn said he’s getting help from the 707 Hub. They helped him create a prototype, connect him with manufacturers, and helped him with business and marketing.  O’Finn said he started working on Headphones+ when he was a senior in high school.

“It wasn’t until I was here at Marquette that I was able to create the first product on the market through the 707 Hub,” O’Finn said.

O’Finn said he is especially grateful for the help of 707 Hub’s co-leaders Megan Carver, associate director for the Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship, and Kelsey Otero, associate director of social innovation. The 707 Hub has assisted O’Finn in creating prototypes of the headphones and helped O’Finn connect with others who could produce the headphones on a bigger scale. Now, the hub is assisting O’Finn in marketing the product. 

“The 707 Hub serves as a resource for students at all stages of their idea. We spend a lot of time helping students prepare to pitch ideas and we now are excited to help Kevin get ready,” Otero said.

Headphones+ officially launched June 1, 2018. 

“Since meeting Kevin, I have seen his business grow in so many ways. Two things that really stand out include adding more color options to his product lineup based on customer feedback and partnering with professional athletes to help sell and promote his product across the globe,” Carver said.

O’Finn said if he wins the BIG EAST Startup Challenge, his biggest focus will be on promotion. He said he wants to increase sales. 

“I have some Team USA long jumpers training for the 2020 Olympics promoting Headphones+ for free, which is so helpful,” O’Finn said. 

O’Finn said paying a celebrity to promote Headphones+ could bring his business to the next level, though O’Finn does not have a certain celebrity in mind. 

O’Finn was a special guest at University President Michael Lovell’s annual address Jan. 23 in the Alumni Memorial Union. Lovell congratulated O’Finn for his successes so far. Lovell also purchased and distributed 10 of the headphones to audience members at random.

“With President Lovell’s address, a lot more people are starting to know about (Headphones+) and like it, too,” O’Finn said.

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