Center's Verve Helped Push Farah Abid Through to Success

Farah Abid

Editor's note: In November, Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review ranked the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business No. 10 among entrepreneurship graduate programs in the United States. The reviewers said the program was the best in the Southeast and named USF as the only university in Florida to make the Top 25. It also was the 10th year in a row the center has been on the list. In recognition of the honor, 10 graduate-entrepreneurs were interviewed and profiled. This is one of them:

For Farah Abid, the road to success began with a homespun idea she had before she even became a student at the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business.

Today, the serial entrepreneur thinks her spark involved a relative who, years ago, accidentally punctured his hand during a medical procedure and contracted Hepatitis-C. It was a mishap that devastated him psychologically, emotionally and physically.

That's when Abid set out to create a puncture-proof material that looks, acts and feels like the nitrile gloves used in medical procedures. The gloves are light, disposable and can withstand upwards of 3,500 PSI, enough to protect the wearer from the forces involved in a scalpel slice of or needle jab.

After coming up with numerous glove prototypes, Abid sought guidance and enrolled in the Muma College of Business's master's in entrepreneurship in applied technologies program to get her glove business, Hippo, going.

"I think the faculty and staff's verve about their student innovators proved a powerful catalyst propelling me to strengthen my resolve and work through the pitfalls of owning a startup," Abid said. "Exposure, exposure, exposure connects many a startup's success and my business never suffered from lack of exposure during my time at the entrepreneurship program."

The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine recently ranked USF's entrepreneurship program tenth in the nation for graduate entrepreneurship training and the best in the Southeast, the only Florida program on the list.

While at the Center for Entrepreneurship, Abid honed her ability to pitch her business to investors.

"It quickly became an apparent asset to have a clean polished pitch with specific barometric numbers for pitch competitions," she said. "I saw many entrepreneurs without training and knowledge psychologically bifurcate at pitch, failing to deliver magnificent prototypes and ideas."

One day, during customer discovery for Hippo, Abid observed some mechanics' torn and gnarled hands, and a new idea was born.

"Car and plane mechanics needed a spray-on protectant for high temperature and abrasive material encounters," she said. "This balm, TuffPaw, incorporates a flame retardant, a synthetic polymer, a cosmetic acid and an organic compound."

There's more: One weekend Abid combined her knowledge of airplane engineering systems she learned from her Hippo customer discovery with what she once experienced watching a fatal fireball vehicular crash. She set out to develop an automatic fire extinguishing system for cars and Sefa, her next project, was born.

"This is still an infant invention," she said, "but I believe many lives could be saved in the United States by installing automatic fire extinguishing systems in cars. In 2015, 445 people died in vehicle fires. At least 1,550 were injured and permanently disfigured.