Fashionable skin protection | VTX
Feggeler’s mother was diagnosed in the spring of 2019. About six months later and after her skin exam, Feggeler, then a senior at Virginia Tech, decided to develop a business plan for a line of sunscreen products after having received an email from a friend. about the Virginia Tech Entrepreneur Challenge, a campus-wide student startup competition hosted by the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs that offers student entrepreneurs a chance to win up to $40,000 in prize money.
“I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ And my friends were like, ‘Erica, shut up and do it,’” Feggeler laughed.
Feggeler was also about to get a minor in fashion merchandising at Virginia Tech and studied at New York’s Laboratory Institute of Merchandising during her high school summers. So she knew how to design clothes, but she somewhat lacked the business acumen needed to present product ideas to a panel of judges who represented the best and the brightest in their respective fields.
Smart enough to know what she didn’t know, Feggeler decided to enter the competition and assembled a team of students from the College of Engineering, the College of Business, and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences to help her – a band that included future husband, Matt. Together, the group came up with a comprehensive plan for the launch of Feggeler’s line of sun-protective clothing that ultimately won the “Fan Favorite” award.
This type of cross-college collaboration is common among aspiring entrepreneurs at Virginia Tech, according to Derick Maggard, executive director of the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs.
“One of the reasons we built Apex the way we built it is to be a resource for any student, any major, any college, any year,” Maggard said. “We see first-year engineering students come up with new technologies that they want to advance. We’ve seen students in liberal arts, communications, business, and it’s fantastic when you bring all those students together because there’s a community that’s built and they can exchange ideas and help each other.
Maggard continued, “We’ve had 94 different majors represented across all of our programs, and so, it’s incredibly interdisciplinary. We see a lot of students like Erica who are in a major and have an idea, who have the entrepreneurship bug and say, “Hey, I have something that I think can materialize into something else for me. Let me see if I can succeed. That’s when we step in and provide them with resources, funding, mentorship and things that will help them move forward.
Feggeler launched her company in October 2020 with the help of Snigdha Sangisetti, a 2020 Virginia Tech graduate with a degree in computer modeling and data analysis. They both run the business while working full-time at other businesses. Feggeler works in marketing for a real estate company in Washington, D.C., while Sangisetti works for Octo as an artificial intelligence engineer.
Feggeler calls her position in marketing a “9 to 5” job, and she begins her “5 to 9” position as CEO of LUV as soon as she returns home.