Aspiring inventor and entrepreneur Caroline McAleavey was terrified to present her idea of a clean burning, environmentally safe kindling bag.

The NCC student, who is majoring in computer aided design (CAD), was about to speak at NCC’s Follett Family Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Aside from the four judges who would critique her presentation, about 100 faculty members from NCC and other colleges and prominent local businesspeople filled the room.

“On a scale of one to 10, my anxiety level was a 15,” she said.

It was with an invention in mind that McAleavey enrolled in NCC’s Startup Boot Camp last spring, which culminated in the final pitch presentation, showcasing 10 weeks of hard work in bringing her idea to life. The entrepreneurial program, which has been expanded to a 28 week format, provides resources, preparation and mentoring to students interested in developing ideas.

Using the NCC’s Fab Lab branding and graphics tools, McAleavey created packaging, a logo, a banner and t-shirts, and she plans to soon develop a website and videos to post on YouTube.

“The Fab Lab is a hidden gem,” she said. “It’s an amazing resource for NCC students and community members looking to create and learn new skills.”

McAleavey’s new product is called Eeezlite Kindling Bag, an organic fire starter consisting of a paper container filled with unbleached wax and coconut oil. It contains no plastics or other potentially harmful materials and burns for over 15 minutes. The non-toxic leftover ash is a natural fertilizer. The idea for her product came from one unfortunate November night in 2022 when McAleavey’s neighbor banged on her door, waking her. When she opened the door, she saw that the entire perimeter of her lot was ablaze.

A responding firefighter told her those types of fires are relatively common because the leaves and other flammable materials tend to gather around wood lines at the perimeter of housing lots. Seeing how quickly dried grass and leaves burned gave her the idea for the accelerant bag.

As a long-time designer, McAleavey has ideas for several other products. But she needed to learn how to take them from concepts on paper to physical, three-dimensional objects, which is where her studies at NCC kicked in. Her coursework at NCC has given her the know-how and confidence to continue learning in pursuit of her dreams.

Since the presentation, McAleavey obtained a provisional patent and plans to soon file a utility patent. More importantly, she delivered her first order for Eeezlite Kindling Bag to a campsite in upstate New York earlier this fall!