Business student wearing grey sweater giving speech in front of a mic

Student Raises Funds for “Green” Water Bottle

Business student wearing grey sweater giving speech in front of a mic

Junior business administration major and Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge winner JD Leadam speaks at an Acceleration campaign event (SJSU Alumni Association photo).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

A business administration major’s award-winning idea for environmentally friendly water bottle is gaining traction.

JD Leadam is moving quickly to capitalize on his first place finish at the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge this past December, when he presented his idea for a reusable, biodegradable water bottle made of a renewable resource, industrial hemp. The challenge is an annual Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship event.

“I could still be sitting in the seat of a classroom dreaming up ideas, but because of the competition, it’s all starting to happen like a snowball effect,” he said.

Leadam, who also received the Most Innovative Idea, Best Elevator Pitch, and People’s Choice awards, shared his experiences at an Acceleration leadership committee gathering held at Club Auto Sport in San Jose.

Leadam’s has been pouring energy into his own 30-day crowd sourcing funding campaign, set to expire in just over a week. As of Feb. 10, Leadam has raised nearly $10,000 from 93 backers.

“I’m looking to raise $15,000,” Leadam said. “This is the amount that I calculate will get me through the plastic testing phase and the design and the tooling of the mold itself.”

Leadam credits his advisory board, which includes the president of a consulting firm specializing in injection molding, an investment banker from Morgan Stanley, and Avon U.S. President Brian Connolly.

“Experts in a given field can be a great resource to an entrepreneur or a small business trying to get started without the formal responsibilities of a board of directors of a company,” Connolly said.

Leadam’s updated plans include manufacturing his bottles locally, which Leadam says will keep jobs in the United States and decrease the size of his product’s carbon footprint.

“The greener I can make this product, the better,” he said.

Notable speaking engagements in the works for Leadam include appearances at Humboldt State University and a TEDx conference this April in Denver.