Alexandra Abraham

Loren Elliott | The Spectator Seattle U student Alexandra Abraham demonstrates how her “DripCatch” device works. After taking time off to develop and put the commercial device into production, Abraham is back at Seattle U to finish her degree.

By Colleen Fontana

Slipping and nearly hitting the hard floor might have been the best thing to happen to Alexandra Abraham’s business career.

The Albers School of Business and Economics student was catering an event last year when she almost fell after slipping on a pool of water. After that moment, she became determined to find a solution for the safety issue.

She drew up a sketch of the device, which she named the DripCatch, and presented the idea to her father, a self-made business man.

“The second he smiled I knew something was worthwhile,” said Abraham.

Twenty months later and the DripCatch team has an exclusive rights agreement with restaurant and kitchen supplier Bargreen Ellingston, as well as interest from retailers like Costco and hotels including Seattle’s Grand Hyatt.

The DripCatch is a basin that snaps below glass and dishware racks to catch excess water that might otherwise drip onto floors and carpets.

Though a relatively simple concept, nothing had previously been created for this purpose in commercial kitchens, especially at an affordable price.

For $74.99, restaurant owners can now cost-effectively maintain a safer kitchen environment.

“It’s great to find a product that makes you smack your head and go ‘Perfect! That’s just what we need!'” said Tom Douglas, American chef and restaurant owner in an endorsement on the DripCatch website. “It keeps our floors drier, our employees and customers safe, the restaurant cleaner and me happier … win, win, win!”

In order to focus on her business endeavor, Abraham took the entire 2010-2011 academic year off from school, only enrolling in a few credits during spring quarter in order to maintain her status as a student.

Still hoping to graduate, she believes that taking that time off was the best decision for herself and her business.

“Once you have investment capitol, those investors don’t want you to treat their investment like a pet project,” she said. “I was checking my phone, checking my email. That’s where my heart was at … and my GPA could totally show that, too. My parents were like ‘just take time off’ because I was living, eating and breathing it.”

Albers Dean Joe Phillips is supportive of Abraham’s business and impressed at her success, but he wouldn’t often recommend students readily dropping school for their business goals.

Getting a degree should come first, he said.

“It is important to get that degree and sometimes when you get out there and start getting really busy it’s hard to get back and finish it off,” said Phillips.

However, Phillips acknowledges that it won’t always work that way and, in Abraham’s case, sometimes taking time off is indeed the best decision.

“In her case I don’t think it would have worked if she kept trying to go to school full-time and figure out how to get that off the ground,” he said.

Phillips also wants students to be aware of the opportunities for business success on campus. The Business Plan Competition put on by Albers is a chance for students to get help and advice from entrepreneurs in the community on their business ideas.

Several students that have participated have gone on to find success in their business plan.

Abraham wants students to look at her achievement and know that it’s possible for them as well.

Now is the time to network and make yourself known, she said.

“Kids these days, I feel like, don’t have the guts to approach people that they meet and that’s the most important thing,” Abraham said. “They’d be shocked at who’s willing to help.”

Abraham had the guts, Phillips noted.

“I think you have to take your hat off to her,” Phillips said. “She’s had a lot of things that she’s had to put together and she’s really had to believe in her project and I think it’s great that she’s been able to push it this far and of course everybody is hopeful that she keeps taking it to a higher level.”

Article Source: The Spectator