Maschoff Brennan awarded two Innovation Scholarships to Ning Ma and Patrick Dumas, two current students at University of California – Irvine, during the Orange County Business Journal’s Innovator of the Year awards. The Scholarship was open to any undergraduate or graduate student attending an Orange County institution. The winners were nominated by their peers.
“Maschoff Brennan started this scholarship to recognize and give encouragement to young innovators in our community.,” said Shareholder Michael Katz. “This year’s award winners are two exceptional individuals. We are very excited to highlight their accomplishments and we look forward to see what they do next.”
Ma moved six years ago from China to Irvine to obtain her master’s degree and then her Ph.D. For the past four years, Ma has been creating an imaging system that helps evaluate the viability of embryos during in vitro fertilization. Her innovation will substantially increase the success rate of IVF, while also lowering its cost. While completing her Ph.D. at UCI, Ma is also working on bringing her idea to market.
When talking about her journey to create her innovation, Ma said, “I’ve learned how to get support and appreciate the support of others. And I’ve also learned how to give back.” She plans to do just that. Ma hopes that she can start helping others who are also innovating.
“Find the opportunities and resources and get help. And one day, when you have the chance, go back and help people.” Her advice for other innovators? “First of all, think about what you are really interested in. It’s not easy and you need to find something you like. Also, make sure it is helpful and can contribute to some part of the world.”
The second recipient, Patrick Dumas, is an undergraduate student at UCI. His innovation first started with a bet from a friend. The friend bet $20 that Dumas could not create something that would make a skateboard mimic the turns of a surfboard. “Why can’t a normal skateboard turn like a surfboard, what would it take?” Dumas said. He won the bet and the first prototype for WaterBorne Skateboards was designed. That was the summer of 2016 and Dumas continued working, churning through more than 15 prototypes to create a product to help skaters customize their decks. Since 2016, Dumas and his company, WaterBorne Skateboards, have gone through two rounds of funding, and completed a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than 500 percent of the initial goal. Dumas has sold more than 1000 Skateboard Surf Adapters, and the company is ramping up for a busy holiday season. When discussing the future, Dumas said, “2019 is the year to see if WaterBorne can sustain us.”
Dumas will finish his bachelors in computer science and business in 2019 as well. His advice for up and coming entrepreneurs, “You have to put your idea out there and get people involved,” he said. “Before you make any big decision, it’s good to consult with people who are experts. Don’t pretend like you know everything.”
Maschoff Brennan looks forward to awarding more Innovation Scholarships in Orange County in the years to come, as well as expanding the scholarships to other cities in which the firm is involved.