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Meet the Up/Start Finalists Competing for $100K

Posted 03.20.17

Following the "pop up and pitch" event that kicked off this year's Up/Start Venture Competition in the Brown Center on Feb. 3, eight finalists have been selected to compete in the finale event on Thursday, April 13, for a shot at seed funding totaling $100,000.  The finalists were chosen from a total of 30 applicants representing 22 MICA programs, and represent a diverse range of industries and ideas, including eco-conscious fashion design, 3D printed prosthetic covers, custom guitar fabrication, bilingual literacy programs, and more.

An initiative of MICApreneurship, spearheaded by the Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Career Development, Up/Start focuses on building creative business ventures within the College community, and provides capital and mentorship with industry partners to help nurture ideas into sustainable businesses. The competition is open to MICA students in the class of 2017 and alumni from the class of 2016, and has been funded with support from the Philip E. and Carol R. Ratcliffe Foundation.

Since their selection, the finalists have been paired with an industry leader or investor as a mentor (see below) to help them refine their business plans and presentation skills in the weeks leading up to their final presentations.

At the finale, each finalist will pitch their business plans to a panel of judges, and funding will be allocated to the winners who present the most compelling and innovative entrepreneurial ideas.

The 2017 Up/Start finalists:

• Founded by Brittney Dori Wilson '16 (Business of Art & Design) and Isaac de Jesus Rodrigues, Club Sweetness is a lifestyle brand designed for the smart and sporty girl on the go. Mentor: Gloria Jacobovitz, member, Baltimore Angels.

• Danae, Inc. provides customizable, 3D printed prosthetic covers created from a 3D scan of the user's original limb to mimic the shape of an amputee's leg. The company team includes its founder Winston Frazer '16 (Painting), Andrew George, Austin Peppel, August Bender, Collin Fujii, Janey Partin and Gregory Dorvil. Mentor: Ken Malone, principle, Early Charm Ventures, LLC.

• Founded by Benjamin Torres '15 (General Fine Arts) and '16 (Post Bacc. Graphic Design) and Ian Murphy '15 (Painting), Evil Evil produces a distinct line of handmade, high-end electric guitars and basses that mix classical and experimental instrument design. Mentor: Jessica Watson, CEO/creative director, Points North Design Studio.

• LiFE Arts publishes bilingual literature in various languages for pre-school through elementary school children and their families. Its books promote the benefits of living in a diverse, equitable and inclusive society. Founded by Joyce Anitagrace '16 (Mount Royal School of Art) and Cécile Accilien. Mentor: Kerry Skarda, president, B Creative Group, Inc. (BCG).

• Founded by Diamond James '16 (Social Design), Quarters connects alumni hosts with students seeking study abroad and intern housing. Using college networks, Quarters is an accessible way for graduates to reduce debt as rental income as directly applied to hosts' student loans. Mentor: Tracey Halvorsen ‘98, president and chief visionary officer, Fastspot.

• Upcycle Outerwear is a movement to challenge fast fashion and wasteful means of production, and revolutionizes clothing design, recycling and material use. Upcycle Outerwear utilizes plastic grocery bags as a material to produce windbreaker jackets, winter jackets, insulated vests and book bags. Founded by Trisha Cheeney '17 (Interdisciplinary Sculpture). Mentor: Michael Burton, president, Urban Design Group.

• Zee Bait Co. LLC is a Pennsylvania-based company specializing in the design, manufacturing, and sales of premium soft bait and terminal tackle for bass fishing. Founded by Hunter Grogan '14 (Environmental Design) and '16 (Business of Art and Design). Mentor: Geoff Maites, member, Baltimore Angels.

• Founded by Paloma Hernando '17 (Illustration) and Bekky Shin '17 (Illustration), Dandelion Wine Collective (DWC) is an illustration and comics focused micro-publisher that works directly with independent creators to publish, market and sell their original work. Mentor: Bridget Morris, founder, Bella Forte Designs.

The finale event is free and open to the public, and will take place at 6 p.m., Thursday, April 13, in Falvey Hall, Brown Center, 1301 W. Mt. Royal Ave.

Read more about the 2016 Up/Start winners here.

This page was last updated on 03/21/2018.