Toy company founder shares perspective on starting a business, handling stress, facing uncertainty

Briana Gardell, '14, '15G, says she knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur as a high schooler, even before she understood what starting a business was all about. 

She was attached to the idea although it "wasn’t necessarily logical," she tells Forbes. "For a long time, I felt like saying I wanted to be an entrepreneur was like saying I wanted to be a rock star but I didn’t even have a song."

Gardell invented Goblies, a throwable paintball toy, while completing her master's of engineering in technical entrepreneurship at Lehigh University's P.C. Rossin College of Engineering & Applied Science. She says being surrounded by students who already had established businesses helped her figure out her path and "fueled her fire" to jump right in.

"When you get into an entrepreneurship program and there are entrepreneurs coming in and going out everyday, you get into a bubble and it doesn’t seem so crazy," Gardell says. "You know people your age who are starting businesses, and making hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales, so it doesn’t seem so crazy."

Lehigh's master's degree in technical entrepreneurship (TE) provides training in the art and practice of creating new companies while bringing revolutionary products and services to market. The 11-month, in-residence program draws upon Lehigh's deep-rooted and powerful ecosystem of programs dedicated to the teaching of business and technology innovation, building upon the success of such endeavors as Lehigh's Technical Entrepreneur Capstone Program.

Gardell is CEO of Bethlehem-based Mezzimatic, "a toy company that inspires messy play. " The company, which has received grants through the SouthSide Bethlehem Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ), sells its paintball products through Michaels, Walmart, and other retailers.

Read more on how Gardell manages the stress of being an entrepreneur and navigates the risks on Forbes.


Briana Gardell, founder of Mezzimatic LLC, and Lehigh alum

Briana Gardell, '14, '15G, invented Goblies, her toy company’s flagship product, while in the TE Masters program at Lehigh.