GU alum Kody Lukens creates stimulating toy for neurodiverse adults | Culture & Leisure

Less than a week after the launch of Stimagz, a stimulation toy for ADHD and autistic adults, recent entrepreneurial graduate Kody Lukens has not only seen his project fully funded, but he has also achieved two of his four ambitious goals.

Stimagz comes from the combination of “stim” and “magnets”, and seeks to be exactly that. The magnetic cylinder set is designed to move and connect to create different designs for user’s choice. The stim toy aims to provide neurodivergent adults with quality tools that they can use in their daily lives.

The idea came during his time at Gonzaga University where he studied Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. Lukens was told to find a problem in his own life and find a solution to it, and thus, Stimagz was created.

“In all my life, I’ve never really been happy with toys like fidget or stim toys that I’ve found,” Lukens said. “It was pretty clear that they were made to be sold to people, not to meet their needs.”

Through extensive research and a personal interest in the product, Lukens began developing a product to offer a solution to the problem.

“I want to create something that’s really useful to as many people as possible,” Lukens said. “It’s something that will really set Stimagz apart from other fidget and stim toys – it was made by neurodivergent people for neurodivergent people, and I think that really shines through.”

After a year and a half of perfecting the product, Lukens finally saw his vision come to life when he was able to launch the product on Kickstarter. Within days, he had already surpassed his fundraising goal of $8,000.

Lukens has garnered much of his support online, where he works to tackle the stigma of neurodivergent adults. He started posting TikToks in September 2021 and has since garnered nearly 80,000 followers.

“I’ve bonded with so many cool people in the space and it’s really allowed me to portray this not just as a random businessman, but as someone who is clearly passionate about these communities and these people and who is invested, in just about every sense of the word, in their well-being,” Lukens said.

Along with the network he acquired online, Lukens also found a lot of support through the GU Entrepreneurial Program. He credits much of his success to the time he spent in the classroom working on his projects and finding support from faculty and peers.

Professor Todd Finkle is one of the people who saw Lukens develop the product first hand. It was in his Startup Accelerator course that Lukens developed the idea. Finkle said he knew Lukens had something special.

“Kody was an entrepreneur in high school, so he entered college with a skill set that very few college students have,” Finkle said. “Research shows that people who have experience in starting businesses, as well as the education to support it, are the most successful as entrepreneurs. Kody has both.

Lukens started his own video production company when he was 15, which has since helped fund the production of Stimagz. In April, he took his first break by entering the Northwest Entrepeneur 2022 contest and won $10,000.

Organized by the University District of Spokane and North Idaho College, the competition invited college and high school teams to compete with 90-second pitch videos and a presentation of their product to a panel of business leaders and entrepreneurs. regional experts. They competed for cash prizes in three business categories – technology, traditional and open. Lukens took first place in the traditional category of the competition.

Lukens said winning the competition was the first big push from Stimagz he needed to keep going. He also said the competition helped him better communicate the need for the toy to those who had no basic knowledge of stim toys. It was the prize, however, that he said he wouldn’t be here without.

Lukens realized that financing a new business is no small feat through many ups and downs throughout the process. From making the initial molds for the product to hiring an old high school friend to handle corporate communications and everything in between, Lukens worked diligently from concept to bring the product to life.

Having had to understand every step of the way, Lukens was able to understand firsthand what it means to start a business.

“There are so many things popping up, one can lead to the next, but each feels like its own thing,” Lukens said. “It’s much easier to send feedback to a company that helps get the design ready for manufacturing than it is to find that company, to begin with, because you have no idea what you’re looking for.”

Although it hasn’t always been easy, he is finally able to see it all pay off.

“It’s surreal to have something tangible to show,” Lukens said.

For others looking to develop their own product, Lukens said taking the first step was the hardest part for him, but it also taught him invaluable lessons that led him to where he is today. .

“Just put yourself out there,” Lukens said. “Don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself. You will embarrass yourself along the way. And the sooner you do that, the sooner you can move past that and get to where you really want to be.