Mike Pullen was a high school football wide receiver when he first conjured the idea that became LZRD Tech.
“There wasn’t a good way to protect a wide-receiver’s arms from turf burn,” says Pullen, a senior in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Georgia Tech and Emory University (BME).
“There are plenty of protective sleeves, but they’re slick, which makes it easy to drop the football,” Pullen explains. “I wanted to make something that would help protect an athlete from turf burn, and also secure the ball.”
The idea evolved in his Materials Science and Engineering of Sports class at Georgia Tech, where he and fraternity brother Mat Quon (a 2019 BME graduate) developed the concept, and course instructor Jud Ready’s enthusiastic support kept the momentum going. They filed a provisional patent, made prototypes, and started a company – LZRD Tech, with Pullen as CEO, Quon as COO, and Ready as CTO.
“We designed it for athletes, but once the pandemic hit last spring, sports came to a standstill,” says Pullen, Pullen says. “We had to find other applications for this product.” And they have. Football players aren’t the only people who have to handle and hold objects as part of their job description – package delivery people, warehouse workers, construction workers.
The LZRD Tech team benefited from a summer in Georgia Tech’s CreateX program, says Pullen, who still has his BME Capstone Design experience ahead and plans to compete for the Inventure Prize at Georgia Tech. He hopes to go to med school, but in the meantime he’s busy running a company whose protective sleeve is being given a trial run by UPS. FedEx also has shown interest. And the fledgling company is already getting media attention.
It started as a product for athletes made by athletes – Pullen, who worked in sports medicine for the Atlanta Falcons and Yellow Jackets football team, plays lacrosse at Tech in his spare time, and Quon is an ice hockey player. “But it become something else,” Pullen said. “I think what makes it appealing is, it’s a universal product. Who carries things? Almost everybody.”