ECU researchers develop crab trap
(Apr. 16, 2004)
Two ECU scientists earned a regional venture award this month for developing a chemical composite that improves yields for soft shell crabs.
James Reho, a visiting assistant professor in ECU's chemistry department, and Gabe Dough, senior geology major with a minor in business administration, competed in the Five Ventures 2004 competition, an annual university and community entrepreneurship event held April 7 at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Reho and Dough's venture company, Shore Shedders, was developed to improve efficiency and profitability of commercial crabbing through the chemists' composite.
They have since changed the business name to an alternate spelling - Shure Shedders - but the idea remains the same: Replace the traditional soft shell crab trapping method of live baiting with their new composite baiting technique. Simply put, the product will save crabbers "time, money and bites," Reho said.
"We were looking to modernize the way soft crabbing is done today," Reho said. "The time crabbers spend during the peeler season is very valuable. In six to eight weeks these guys can make in excess of $100,000."
Traditional methods lure molting female crabs to pots by using a male crab as bait. Females seek out males for protection and mating during molting.
The Shure Shedders way replaces the male crab with the chemical composite, a time-released concoction designed to mimic the luring capability of the male crab.
Using the chemical in lieu of the male circumvents the need to harvest bait crabs during shedding season, thus saving time and money, said Reho.
The budding company, founded by Reho and Dough, will develop and commercialize the crab-catching composite. With its May-June season, North Carolina has the single largest harvest of soft crabs, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The state's soft shell crabbing industry makes up almost half of the $65 million industry, according to the Department of Commerce.
The Five Ventures 2004 competition focuses on essential qualities of a successful business. Open to new business ventures that have an affiliation with a university in North Carolina or South Carolina, participants were required to compete against one another with their entrepreneur business plans.
Five companies were selected as the "Five Ventures," and will receive legal, accounting, marketing and management services for their start-up ventures.
The finalist teams competed for the overall winner status in six rounds of technical questions, including underlying technology; products and services; management and human resources; sales, marketing and customer relations; strategic partnerships; legal and accounting; and venture capital financing.
Shure Shedders won three out of six rounds of the competition and were named the overall winners with a prize total of $6,500.
The Small Business Technology Development Center and ECU's Office of Technology Transfer provided extensive counseling services to Shure Shedders in preparation of the competition.
With a patent pending on their secret composite, the team plans on conducting extensive field research this summer with a goal of having the project out on the market by the summer of 2005.