Academics and Research

Graduating senior eyes starting her own wearable tech company

Makayla Cappel on the slopes. Photo courtesy of DU Athletics

Makayla Cappel on the slopes. Photo courtesy of DU Athletics

“I fully believe that if you want something bad enough, if you put your intention out there and work your butt off, that you can achieve it,” says University of Denver senior Makayla Cappel.

Cappel should know — in addition to juggling a double major, she walked on to the Pioneers Nordic skiing team as a first-year student, and two years later she had skied her way to a scholarship. After graduation in June, she will head to Norway for a summer-long marketing internship. Then, she will start a year on the pro skiing circuit as part of a six-person team in her hometown of Sun Valley, Idaho.

And if all goes to plan, Cappel’s fledgling company, Meco. Ideations, will soon be producing its first piece of wearable technology: an article of clothing for athletes that will help prevent back injury through real-time coaching feedback.

“I’m looking into CrossFit because they pride themselves on not wearing a weight belt,” she says. “A lot of the people who start doing CrossFit hurt themselves badly within the first three months, and a majority of them are lower back injuries. I am creating a shirt that will help prevent back injuries by giving you signals as to when you are not in the proper position.”

Cappel developed the product as her final project in DU’s Emergent Digital Practices (EPD) program, which trains students interested in the intersection of art and technology.

“Originally, when I was trying to decide where I wanted to go to school, I was deciding between here and the University of New Hampshire,” she says. “I had two separate ideas — one was to start my own clothing line and one was to become a physical therapist. I decided to follow my passion of art.”

As she was perfecting her design in her EDP classes, Cappel — a double major in EDP and marketing — developed a business plan and researched the economics of wearable technology in her courses at the Daniels College of Business.

“It’s cool to be able to bring all of my education together,” she says. “It has really helped me see what’s out there and follow the industry as whole. I’m doing an independent study that focuses on social media marketing, and that has proven to be really helpful in terms of building my own personal brand. I’m creating my own website right now.”

She brings another piece of her DU life to her company as well — her experience as an athlete, where, she says, “goals are important.”

“I’ll sit down with my coach and we’ll make end goals and process goals, and then track them over the course of each year,” she says. “I think in anything that you go into, it’s really important to be goal-oriented and have something to hold yourself to, and I have also found that, like anything that you’re proud of, [success] takes hard work.”

The undergraduate Commencement ceremony takes place June 6; visit the Commencement site for more information.


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