UP/Start Venture Competition

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

Final Pitch Event: Thursday, April 13

A look back at last year's finalists: Julie Buisson ‘15, Jordan Bradley ‘16, Jay Jackson ‘16, Winston Frazier ‘16, Juansebastian Serrano ‘16, Renz Balagtas ‘14, Olivia Lindsey ‘16, Sam Acuff ‘15, Amadeus Guchhait ‘15 ‘17.

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 Carol R. Ratcliffe Foundation, will be allocated to the winners who present the most promising and innovative entrepreneurial ideas.

This year's eight Up/Start Venture Competition finalists, who were selected from a total of 30 applicants representing 22 MICA programs following their presentations at a "pop up and pitch" event on Fri., Feb. 3.

The businesses of the eight finalists represent a diverse range of industries and ideas, including eco-conscious fashion design, 3D printed wearable biotech, custom guitar fabrication, bilingual literacy programs, and more.

The finalists will compete for seed funding totaling $100,000, funded with support from the Philip E. and Carol R. Ratcliffe Foundation, at the finale event on Thursday, April 13.

Each finalist will make a final pitch to a new panel of judges (to be announced at a later date), and the funding will be allocated to the winners who present the most compelling and innovative entrepreneurial ideas.

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

The finalists will also each be paired with an industry leader or investor as a mentor to refine their business plans and presentation skills in the weeks leading up to the finale event.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.