Last year, a group of Case Western Reserve University students made headlines with Hole Patch, their innovative approach to fixing potholes using a bag filled with a secret recipe of non-Newtonian fluid. As a co-founder of the award-winning startup, junior Mayank Saksena played a major role in the company’s creation.
This year, Saksena is making headlines himself, having recently been named Northeast Ohio’s Best Intern by the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education. His nominators at BioEnterprise were so impressed by him both professionally and personally that they invited him back during the academic year—the first time the company had extended such an offer to an undergraduate.
His work at BioEnterprise combined his areas of expertise—entrepreneurship and engineering—as he created a market analysis for a wound-healing technology. It’s precisely the kind of work he’s always wanted to do.
Saksena, an economics and biomedical engineering major, chose his areas of study with the aspiration of making technical discoveries commercial successes.
“I’ve always wanted to pursue both a technical and a business-oriented degree with the goal of combining both of them in a career post graduation,” said Saksena. “I always joke around saying that an ideal job for me would be putting a lab coat on in the morning and switching over to a suit in the afternoon.”
Saksena and several of his classmates put this way of thinking into practice with the inception of Hole Patch LLC, and they continue to work on improving Hole Patch with the help and encouragement from the CWRU community, specifically members of the faculty and alumni.
“I’d love to continue working in the startup and/or consulting space, helping drive growth and helping bring technologies all the way from the lab to the marketplace,” said Saksena.”
His summer break will be anything but, as the junior has a packed schedule.
“I’ll be working for BioMotiv, a firm that accelerates breakthrough discoveries from research institutions into therapeutics for patients,” said Saksena.
He’ll also be part of the Summer on the Cuyahoga program, which allows students to discover the professional opportunities Cleveland has to offer. He looks forward to the opportunity “to better explore parts of Cleveland I usually don’t see during the academic year.”
With such a rigorous daily schedule that involves class, studying, working on Hole Patch and participating in a number of organizations (he is president of CWRU Capital), Saksena relies on comedy to set his mind at ease.
“I love watching episodes of Modern Family, Parks and Recreation and Everybody Loves Raymond,” Saksena said. “It’s a great way to unwind and have a good laugh after a stressful day.”
Learn more about Saksena in this week’s five questions.
1. What was the first album you ever purchased, and what was the medium (record, cassette, CD, etc.)?
It was one of the Backstreet Boys’ CDs. I remember moving from Singapore in the third grade and all anyone was talking about in my classes was this boy band, so I decided to check it out. It was my first taste of American music.
2. What do you think should have won “Best Picture” at the Oscars—whether or not it was nominated? (aka what was the best movie you saw this year)
Silver Linings Playbook.
3. What moment at Case Western Reserve stands out as most memorable (so far)?
Starting Hole Patch LLC in the basement of Kelvin Smith Library during my sophomore year. It has been an unbelievable experience so far that has helped me grow tremendously as both a student and entrepreneur. With the endless support of Case Western Reserve faculty and alumni, Hole Patch has grown considerably over the past year and has a very promising future ahead of itself.
4. What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m obsessed with airplanes and have always wanted to be a pilot. I definitely plan on getting a pilot’s license after I graduate.
5. What is your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve?
The creativity. It’s inspiring to see students come up with these incredible ideas and work with the local community to transform them into successful businesses. Whether it is commercializing a pothole patch or a malaria diagnostic tool, the students here have access to a tremendous amount of support from the university and the Greater Cleveland community. It’s exciting to see where this student-led innovation will take us.