GVSU student creates thermal mask

Shae Slaughter

As a young boy, Jordan Vanderham already had a knack for invention. Now, as a soon-to-be Grand Valley State University senior, years of practice paid off when his company, Orindi Ventures, was awarded $25,000 at the GreenLight Business Model Competition that took place on March 30 in East Lansing.

A product design and manufacturing major, Vanderham has had many different creations as he pursued his interests. Orindi Ventures is Vanderham’s third company and their award-winning idea is the thermal mask, a device that can make breathing in cold climates more comfortable.

The idea that was presented came to Vanderham while he was walking to class.

“I would take in a big breath and my lungs would freeze and I thought what if there was something else that could bare the brunt of the cold?” he said. 

Part of Vanderham’s philosophy stems from the belief that each idea he has should be pursued within 72 hours. He followed this system with his thermal mask, doing a quick Google search to make sure his product was original and also making a visual prototype on paper.

After seeing that no such product really existed, a plan was put into place. The mask functions with a low profile design that sits over the nose and mouth, comparable to how one would wear a scarf. The heat and humidity exerted from a breath outward is captured by the mask and then used to warm and humidify the cold air then being breathed in. The technology to do this was designed by Vanderham himself and is currently being patented.

Orindi Ventures was allotted a spot in the GreenLight competition after Vanderham submitted a business plan and was selected as a finalist. The company also includes students from Kendall College of Art and Design, Jared Seifert and Tony Franco. At the competition, Vanderham presented a four minute speech on their company including their business plan, market strategy and what they planned on doing with the award money. 

Professor Paul Lane, a faculty member in the Seidman College of Business Marketing Department has had first-hand experience in seeing Vanderham flourish as an entrepreneur. The pair first met when Vanderham was in junior high and a member of the Eagle Scouts.

“Some people like Jordan greet everyday as an opportunity, every challenge as a chance to learn something new,” Lane said. “He is passionate about things like alternative energy and uses his unbounded energy to pursue his interest and passions.”

However despite his natural talent, Vanderham also credits mentors such as Lane for his success. Orindi Ventures even had some mentoring from those who are in the field to use their thermal mask like Bo Parfet, a well-known mountain climber and Zack Abbot, an Alaskan pipeline construction executive. He also believes that GVSU’s CEO Club and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation were wildly helpful to him.