Solving Problems- Changing Behaviors

Elisa Burton – Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator


Do I pay attention to the problems around me?  Do I have what it takes to be a change agent? 

These are the questions that came to mind after hearing Kristen McClellan, founder of SnappyScreen, the world’s first touchless sunscreen application system that is changing how people apply sunscreen.  Students and faculty had the opportunity to hear from McClellan who was a guest speaker in Wake’s new Startup Lab on March 1, 2017.

Who knew that applying sunscreen was such a problem? 

Kristen heard the problems – people don’t like applying sunscreen, they can’t apply it to their own back, kids fuss about it, not enough sunscreen gets applied for full coverage and people get sunburned – and she took action.

Through coaching from advisors in her eLab class at Cornell University, McClellan, then a sophomore student, was encouraged to pitch her idea at an elevator pitch competition.  From there, she raised Angel funding and is currently pursuing Venture Capital funding.  Little did she know that her idea would one day change consumer behaviors.  Her passion, hard work and tenacity are reaping rewards.  Today, her revolutionary sunscreen sprayer, SnappyScreen, can be found at several luxury hotels.

Some takeaways from McClellan’s presentation:

  • Do LOTS of customer discovery. Talk to people and find out what they like and what they don’t like. McClellan discovered that customers want to be able to choose the SPF level, and select their height when using SnappyScreen.
  • Network. That person you talk to at a party or social event might be the friend or relative of someone who makes decisions that can move your idea to the next level.
  • Be aware of the space that you are creating. SnappyScreen went through four generations of changes before getting to the current model, which “fits in” with the environment and surroundings at the luxury vacation hotels.  
  • Press helps catapult your business to the next level. Getting some publicity in a newspaper or magazine helps to create legitimacy for your new venture.
  • Don’t discount Acting 101. When asked about the classes that helped prepare her for life as an entrepreneur, McClellan said that her acting class was very beneficial in teaching her how to manage emotions especially in the up and down nature of entrepreneurship.  You have to tune out anything negative and go into that sales call or investor pitch like everything is great or you’ll get nowhere! 

So, the next time you hear the same problem being repeated over and over, think about how you might create the solution!

You can learn more about SnappyScreen through their website.