Student entrepreneurs reduce dining hall plastic use with new plates

FAU engineering student Jerry Desamours is the co-founder of Lock-It Plates, an eco-friendly product that has been integrated into FAU’s dining halls for over a semester.

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Student entrepreneurs reduce dining hall plastic use with new plates

Lock-It Plates are available at the Atlantic Dining Hall and save plastic. Photo courtesy of Lock-It Plates

Lock-It Plates are available at the Atlantic Dining Hall and save plastic. Photo courtesy of Lock-It Plates

Lock-It Plates are available at the Atlantic Dining Hall and save plastic. Photo courtesy of Lock-It Plates

Lock-It Plates are available at the Atlantic Dining Hall and save plastic. Photo courtesy of Lock-It Plates

Regina Holloway, Staff Writer

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At the start of last Fall semester, freshmen were handed red, white, and blue discs to keep with them throughout their tenure. 

Lock-It Plates, created by a team of three students — one of them being from FAU — have only been around for a year, and they’ve replaced the styrofoam plates students would use on a daily basis. Since they’re reusable, students can wash the container and bring it back to the dining hall, cutting back on single-use plastics.

The design is made up of two interlocking plates and is free for students. It allows them to walk with one hand free while preventing spills, and its ridges fit any size cup to rest above or below it. 

FAU civil engineering major Jerry Desamours founded and patented the product with Broward College students Chris Mundy and Johnny Delvar. Mundy said they wanted to be a “company by the students and for the students.”

“We don’t just put things out there and say, ‘Here, take it’,” Delvar said. “We have the environment in mind.” 

Its functionality and eco-friendliness led Lock-It Plates to win first place and $12,000 in the FAU Business Plan Competition, a competition where students, staff, faculty and graduates can show off their business idea. As a result, dining services took notice of it.

“We were able to get a meeting and present the product, they loved it, and the rest is history,” Mundy said.

The founders entered Lock-It Plates in some competitions prior to FAU’s, but this was the first time they’d won first place. The $12,000 given by FAU was instrumental in furthering the production of the business, they said, but the connections have been invaluable.  

After the competition, they used that prize money to participate in Tech Runway, another competition that’s open to any business — which is they sealed the deal with Dining Services.

“Without that competition money, we don’t know how we would’ve gotten that application,” Delvar noted.

The inspiration behind the plates, according to the founders, came from a “personal struggle” that Mundy deals with every day. 

“He’s a very busy guy, and he tries to multitask. So whenever he’s on the run, going to work or things like that, a couple spills have happened,” Delvar joked.

With the combination of Desamours’ engineering major, and Delvar’s marketing major with Mundy’s business major, they make the perfect storm of entrepreneurship. 

The founders got other students involved with nearly every decision when making Lock-It Plates.

“We did surveys with students from the Boca campus and Jupiter campus. We take their feedback seriously. It’s a company by the students and for the students — and we want to improve the issues they encounter,” Mundy said.

Their next step was getting the idea patented, which the founders called a “long and very expensive process.”

After going back to the drawing board, improving on the design for Lock-It Plates, the founders consulted with a lawyer and got the patent on Nov. 26. They hope to find the best version of the design and patent it again. 

They hope to expand the product to other schools in South Florida, like FIU and Nova Southeastern University. 

Regina Holloway is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email her at [email protected]