First-year student Nadja Kotitschke had an epiphany when she stepped on campus for the first time. She knew that The University of Akron was the institution for her – not only because of her gut feeling, but also because of the entrepreneurial spirit she felt enveloped the campus.
Nadja Kotitschke has invented the CozyPad, a battery-heated riding pad for saddles for use in cold weather.
An accomplished horseback rider, Kotitschke, enrolled in the College of Business Administration, already had an eye for business, considering that at the tender age of 15 she received a patent on her invention of the first battery-heated riding pad for saddles. Called the CozyPad, the idea dawned on Kotitschke when she was a freshman at Jackson High School in Jackson Township, Ohio.
"It was the middle of winter and I was sitting on my horse at practice and I was beyond freezing," recalls Kotitschke. "Even with the hand warmers and thick coat I had on, I was still shivering the whole time." As she rode her horse, she envisioned different warming scenarios until the idea of a heated saddle seat cover clicked inside her mind.
From her creation of the CozyPad, Kotitschke knew she wanted to pursue a career in business, and is now enrolled as a double major in communication and international business. While in high school, Kotitschke indirectly heard about UA's College of Business Administration during a day of shadowing at Goodyear by an executive who was singing the praises of both.
Then it came time to visit college campuses.
"When I stepped on Akron's campus for the first time, I experienced a sense of completion," says Kotitschke. "Throughout my visits to other universities, I never encountered that same feeling and the more I learned about everything the University had to offer, I knew this was the place for me."
Since coming to UA, Kotitschke has begun to learn what it really takes to be an entrepreneur through her coursework and activities. "I felt UA gave me more options and I could really get involved in things I believe in and what interests me," she says. "I found out about the Emerging Leaders program and got accepted into the program, and so far it has been a priceless experience. In fact, I think being a part of this program gives me an advantage over other freshmen because of the opportunities that we are given throughout the various programs. Plus I’m developing the leadership skills that will help me be successful in the future.”
And now she’s applying what she’s learned to the marketing of her invention, and she hopes that the skills she obtains from UA will assist her in starting a new business venture in her future.
So what exactly is the CozyPad?
The CozyPad, a battery-heated riding pad, is seen here on a saddle.
The product was created to suit both English and Western saddle styles, and offers five different heating levels that last up to 11 hours. It is also made up of "cozy" and comfortable fleece material that doesn't shift or slide off the saddle.
"When this whole process started getting somewhere, we tossed around some names. I was thinking of warmth and being comfortable. During the winter you want to be warm and cozy. Then, since it has to do with horses, we decided riding had to be a part too," Kotitschke explains.
When a customer orders the CozyPad off of Kotitschke’s website, CozyRides.com, the product is then developed and shipped from a manufacturer in South Carolina. Kotitschke has featured the product in various horseback riding publications and says that, overall, her family has made a small profit from the product.
In addition to joining Emerging Leaders, Kotitschke is a member of the Residence Hall Programming Board, Pi Sigma Epsilon and the English Equestrian Club. As busy as she is on campus with classes and activities, home is only 30 minutes away, so Kotitschke is still able to work in riding time with her horse.
"So far, I think UA is really helping me to find out what I want to do and discover my passions," Kotitschke says. "I've just finished my first semester, but I already have done so much to find my current path, and I’m enjoying it. UA presents different opportunities every day and its very exciting to have that available to me."
Studying abroad is one of the opportunities she is looking forward to experiencing.
Kotitschke would like to spend a semester studying in her native Germany, and also pursue jobs there after graduation. For now, she says she has definitely found the place she will call home for the next four years.
Story by Katey Kimpel
Media contact: Laura Massie, 330-972-6476 or firstname.lastname@example.org.