MICA announces 2021 UP/Start Finalists

MICA is thrilled to announce this year’s eight UP/Start Venture Competition finalists, who were selected from a total of a record 58 applicants, following our Virtual 'Pop Up and Pitch' event this month. 

The UP/Start Venture Competition, now in its sixth year, is an initiative of MICApreneurship and the Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship, and focuses on incubating and building creative business ventures within the MICA community. The finalists will compete for seed funding totaling $100,000, funded by the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation, at the finale event.

These ventures will spend the next two months refining their business models and working closely with dedicated mentors. Finalists will compete for a portion of $100,000 in seed funding during our April 14 Finale. 

This year’s finalists include:

Anchovy Press 

Rebecca Marimutu ’20 (Photographic & Electronic Media MFA), Priyanka Kumar ’20 (Illustration Practice MFA), Joshua Littlefield ’20 (Photographic & Electronic Media MFA)

Read their full profile

Anchovy Press is an independent publishing company based in Baltimore, dedicated to storytelling that centers Black and Brown experiences. We create fun, authentic, future-focused picture books for children that are rooted in the diverse and multicultural world we inhabit. According to a 2018 study by the Cooperative Children's Book Center of Education (CCBC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, more children's books that featured an animal main character were published than children's books featuring a Black, Latinx, Native, or Asian child. Anchovy wants to change this. Named after the overlooked but abundant anchovy population in our planet’s oceans, Anchovy Press seeks to change the narrative at the earliest stage in which stories are told. They value the sensory experience that a gorgeously illustrated, thoughtfully printed children’s book offers. They also want to ensure that their varied every day makes its way into the stories shared at bedtime!

Le Boi 

Yuze Le ’21 (Design Leadership MBA/MA)

Read their full profile

Le Boi, a true gender-neutral skincare and lifestyle brand, aims to create natural clean skincare products and fashion accessories for 'he, she, and they' to nurture their physical form and unlock unlimited possibilities. More importantly, Le Boi focuses on the age group of youth who are navigating to find their true selves. Traditional skincare giants drew a clear line between men's and women's skincare and beauty products, but Le Boi believes that beauty is genderless. Gender is never the only thing to determine our skin types and preferences. From an early age, Le Boi wants its users to feel seen, understood, and inspired. Le Boi wants to be the brand that nurtures young skins and unlocks their unlimited possibilities. It is okay to be different, and it is okay to be beautiful.

Foraday Inc. 

Sean Duffy ’20 (User Experience Design MPS), Stephanie Petagno ’02 (General Sculptural Studies BFA)

Read their full profile

Foraday is a paper costume and play company. We produce print-it-yourself and mailed to you pre-printed and pre-cut paper costumes that feature original characters, customizable artwork, and narrative-driven designs. Our vision is to create spaces for children and adults to indulge their creativity and innate desire to play. To make this a reality for our audience, our costumes are completely recyclable and designed to fit all ages and body types, and gender expressions. Our thoughtful instructional methods allow children as young as 6 to build costumes without assistance and help make crafting approachable, accessible, and inviting. Beyond hats, masks, and full body costumes—Foraday is also interested in paper-based games, artwork, and toys.


Erica Duffy ’21 (Design Leadership MBA/MA)

Read their full profile

TamPal is the next generation in tampon and pad vending. For too long those of us with periods have gone to use a public restroom and found a tampon or pad vending machine empty, broken, abandoned, or simply nonexistent. If there is a functional machine, it often requires a quarter to vend. If toilet paper is a standard in bathrooms, why shouldn’t period products? TamPal’s vending machine connects to the TamPal App so that those stocking the machine are alerted when supplies are running low. Machine owners will be able to reorder their users' favorite products from the app and can designate funds to users’ accounts if they wish to provide tampons and pads for free to their users. Bathroom users can scan the QR code, located on the side of the machine, or access the TamPal App directly to easily vend what they need, sans quarters.

Dexter Design Co.

Christian Dexter ’20 (Graphic Design & Printmaking BFA )

Read their full profile

Dexter Design Co. seeks to rejuvenate the moveable type manufacturing space. Letterpress printing has made a resurgence in the last decade through the use of photopolymer plates, and since then, press shops have been opening up all across the country. DDC caters to these shops by manufacturing new moveable type through the process of CNC milling. DDC stands out from its competition by providing new and exciting typefaces in a traditional format. Other type manufacturers are recreating the old greats, but DDC will be creating new and innovative fonts. Each typeface is carefully designed by DDC, vectorized, and precision milled to type high. DDC will also offer services to custom cut fonts brought to us.DDC also serves as a digital font foundry for designers, providing the same new and exciting fonts in a digital format. This broadens the audience of DDC, as well as gives us the ability to provide letterpress printers computer fonts with which to proof their work digitally.

Garden Party Press

Chelsea Conrad ’20 (Illustration MA)

Read their full profile

Garden Party Press takes a unique approach to creating group portraits: each person is represented by the flower of their birthday month. The prints can be made with just two flowers for your partner, your parents, or your best friend, or they can be made with up to ten flowers to represent your large family or friend group. Just as the relationships between people change the dynamics of a group, each print has a unique composition and personality because of the relationships between the shapes and colors of the flowers. Each print is custom-made and printed on archival paper, using archival inks so that it will last forever as a family heirloom or a reminder of a special relationship. The example image represents a family of four: two parents with birthdays in July (Larkspur) and November (Chrysanthemum), and two kids born in February (Violet) and August (Poppy).

Confetti Collection Co. 

Charlene Etienne ’21 (Data Analytics & Visualization MPS)

Read their full profile

Confetti Collection Co. is a carefully curated collection of party décor and goods that help make your special occasion that much more memorable. Unlike what you can find in big box party stores or other retailers, our collections consist of coordinated items that give your shindig a professionally put together feel at a fraction of the price – like an event planner in a box. Our party boxes include everything you need, from the invitations to the party favors. We have multiple themes or color schemes to choose from that you can customize to your liking and have conveniently delivered to your door.

Reside Burials 

Carrie Carter ’20 (Humanistic Studies + Product Design BFA)

Read their full profile

Reside Burials takes a two-part approach to disrupting the funerary industry. First, we advocate for the use of graveyards and burial grounds as forested buffers in order to mitigate damage from agricultural runoff into waterways. We advocate for new cemeteries to be maintained in a “nature preserve style.” Within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, there are 2,828+ cemeteries. Imagine if all of these were used to increase the density of biological matter in the soil thus reducing erosion and preventing agricultural waste from entering the water stream. Second, we provide eco friendly burial solutions to residents of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Plenty of green solutions are already on the market but most cater to cremated remains. Newer solutions like human composting and the mushroom suit are more radical than the average American can stomach in a time of grief. Reside Burials designs and manufactures caskets made of conifer needles and cloth that appeal to both aesthetics and morals.