Changing the World of Roofing
PROVO, Utah – Dec 09, 2019 – When BYU students Todd Paskett and Grant Hagen sat next to each other at a workshop for a business competition in 2018, they had no idea how their lives were about to change.
Paskett, now a sophomore business management student from Cedar Hills, Utah, was in his first semester of college when knew he wanted to start some type of business. Hagen, a senior chemical engineering student from Glendora, California, had spent five years designing a robot and knew he also wanted to start a company—a company that used his creation.
They happened to sit next to each other at a workshop for the Big Idea Pitch, a competition where students pitch their entrepreneurial ideas to compete for further funding. The Big Idea Pitch is the first part of the Miller Competition Series held each year by BYU Marriott’s Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology.
“I sat down next to Grant,” says Paskett. “After introducing ourselves, he asked, ‘Hey, can I show you something?’”
After the workshop, Hagen showed Paskett the robot he’d spent years creating. “From there, we decided to figure out how we could use a robot and fix a labor-intensive and repetitive problem at the same time so we could enter the Big Idea Pitch,” says Paskett.
After evaluating twenty industries, the two landed on roofing. “We discovered a lot of labor-intensive moments in construction that can be dangerous and exhausting,” says Hagen. “From there, we contacted contractors and figured out what they hated about their jobs. Roofing kept coming up.”
That decision led them to design a robot that removes shingles from roofs and to start their own company: Auxilium Automation Incorporation. After their idea took first place at the 2018 Big Idea Pitch, they participated in the entire Miller Series Competition.
The Miller Series Competition includes Prototype-a-palooza, a thirty-hour, rapid-prototyping fest that brings engineers and developers together with ideas from the Big Idea Pitch to create prototypes; the Business Model Competition, where students test their big ideas with customers, alter their ideas based on feedback, and repeat this process until the ideas meets customers’ needs; and the New Venture Challenge, which assesses how successful businesses will be.
After placing in the top eight at the New Venture Challenge, Auxilium Automation was admitted into the Rollins Center summerlong Founders Launchpad accelerator, a startup accelerator course designed to mentor students as they launch their companies.
“The launch pad was incredible,” says Paskett. “We had office space here at BYU Marriott, we had a free legal team that advised us, and we had mentoring sessions with entrepreneurs and different people from the community. The Rollins Center has changed my life. I always thought I would do four years of college and then start companies, but they've made it possible to start a company right now.”
Hagen knows he would have never been able to start a business with his invention without the Rollins Center. “If you want to make something, that's easy to do; you can do that wherever,” says Hagen. “But if you want to change the world with your idea, you need the connections, the support, and the guidance you get at the Rollins Center. Without the center’s resources, Auxilium Automation wouldn’t be anywhere near what it is today.”
Auxilium Automation’s product has transitioned from a robot to a roofing tool operated by a worker, similar to a lawnmower. “We've taken that tedious, dangerous process of roof removal that takes three people to do, and simplified it into a machine that one person can use,” says Hagen.
As Hagen looks towards the future, he plans to continue to innovate and expand Auxilium Automation beyond the roofing industry. “I want to take Auxilium Automation and change the world with it,” says Hagen.
Paskett hopes to give back to communities around the world. “I have seen this rare side of successful entrepreneurs at BYU Marriott,” says Paskett. “These people have created amazing companies, but their happiness doesn't come from dollars they've made or the success stories. Their happiness comes from helping others and making a difference. That's who I'm striving to become.”
Hagen and Paskett are aware of the risks when it come to a startup business, but these risks won’t stop them. “I know I'm going to continue to be an entrepreneur,” says Paskett. “I love starting companies. I love going through the process of building something, making and creating value. It is risky, but we’re going to take Auxilium far.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kate Monroe