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UP/Start Venture Competition

Students and alumni pitch innovative ideas for a shot at $100K in funding.

Congratulations to the 2017 UP/Start Winners!

See more UP/Start videos

2017 UP/Start Winners:

An initiative of MICApreneurship, spearheaded by the Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Career Development, Up/Start provides capital and mentorship with industry partners to help nurture ideas into sustainable businesses.

Investment funding totaling $100,000, funded with support from the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation, is allocated to the winners who present the most promising and innovative entrepreneurial ideas.

2017 Judges: 

  • John Cammack, Managing Partner, Cammack Associates LLC
  • Carole R. Ratcliffe, Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation
  • Tim Train, CEO and Co-founder, Big Huge Games
  • David Wise, Venture Advisor, The Abell Foundation
  • Michele Speaks, Vice President of Advancement, Family League of Baltimore City, Inc.
  • Hakim Dyer, Partner, Dyer Bermingham

For more information, visit micapreneurship.com.

Read more about all the 2017 Up/Start winners here.

  • Pokdo Studio
  • The Longform
  • Chameleon Gallery
  • Boba Studios
  • Social Butterfly
  • Rising Action Studio
  • VellPapel

2018 Finalists

The Longform

The Longform is a subscription-based content provider covering video games, comics and related media. Founded by Interactive Arts B.F.A. student J.S. Gleason, Nick Clinkscales ’17 (Interactive Arts B.F.A.) and Interactive Arts B.F.A. student Ash Turner.

Chameleon Gallery

Chameleon Gallery focuses on exhibiting, promoting, distributing and selling virtual artwork using blockchain technology and cryptocurrency for sales. Founded by LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting M.F.A. student Yi-An Pan and Mount Royal School of Art M.F.A. student Haoran Chang.

Boba Studios

Boba Studios creates games that combine the novel concepts, polished production and a high replay value of major studio titles with the handcrafted feel and price point of indie games. Founded by Ashley Guchhait ’17 (Interactive Arts B.F.A.), Donald Boose ’17 (Interactive Arts B.F.A.), Animation B.F.A. student Kyrstin Cooksey and T.J. Martin.

Social Butterfly

Founded by Christina Hyrkas ’17 (Graphic Design B.F.A.), Social Butterfly is a collection of party products, such as napkins, cups and balloons, which are designed with a lighthearted tone to take the anxiety out of social gatherings.

Rising Action Studio

Rising Action Studio helps change makers and nonprofits tell imaginative, inspiring and ethical stories about social impact movements around the world. Founded by M.A. Social Design student Ashley Eberhart.


VellPapel is a creator of low-cost and environmentally sustainable furniture dedicated to providing short-term living solutions. The product line focuses on furniture made out of cardboard for minimal environmental impact. Founded by M.B.A./M.A. Design Leadership student Brent Aguilar and Jennifer Smith.

Fairman Studios

Founded by Jennifer Fairman ‘17 (Business of Art and Design M.P.S.), the studio produces visual communications for the health sciences industry, and is launching a new website, anatomicalillustration.com, which will enable clients to procure licenses to use their medical illustrations.

Pokdo Studio

Founded by Paul Lai ’17 (Photography B.F.A.) and Fiber B.F.A. student Claire Cho, Pokdo Studio is a multifaceted media production company offering virtual reality, photography, audio/DJ, video and graphic design services.