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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 2016 Up/Start winners here.

  • Brown Center Leidy Atrium
  • Dandelion Wine Collective
  • Evil Evil Guitars
  • Popop Shop
  • Quarters
  • Zee Bait

2017 Finalists

Club Sweetness

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. Read more. 

Danae, inc.

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. Read more.

Guitars by Evil Evil

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. Read more.

LiFE Arts, Literacy for Everyone

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. Read more.

Upcycle Outerwear

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. Read more.

Zee Bait Co. LLC

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. Read more.

Dandelion Wine Collective (People's Choice)

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. Read more.