MICA Awards More Than $100K in Annual UP/Start Venture Competition

Winners of the 2019 UP/Start Venture Competition

GPG Technologies and Greenmount Tile were the top prize winners of the Maryland Institute College of Art’s (MICA) fourth annual UP/Start Venture Competition.

As announced at the finale event on April 17, both teams were awarded $35,000 in seed funding.

GPG Technologies, founded by Kyle Vaughan ’19 (Design Leadership M.B.A./M.A.) and Kenneth Wayman, is dedicated to one mission: doing the greatest possible good. The company designs sustainable solutions for people and planet. Its first product, the Saqua bottle, is a reusable water bottle that is easy to clean and elegant in its simplicity.

Greenmount Tile, founded by Ann Zellhofer ’18 (Printmaking B.F.A.) and Dominique Hellgeth ’10 (Ceramics B.F.A.), is an architectural ceramics company that creates limited edition artwork. Its installations include art for public space, experimental structural design and suspended tile.

HILARIOUS COMICS, founded by RJ Sterling ’19 (Illustration and Teaching M.A.T.), won $20,000. The venture is a brand that seeks to redefine the term superhero while also highlighting underrepresented characters in comics, such as female characters, characters of color and queer characters. HILARIOUS COMICS was also awarded $5,000 for the People’s Choice Award, which was decided in real time at Wednesday night’s event.

Seed funding was also awarded to:

  • Paint.Team, founded by Haley Manchon ’18 (Drawing and Graphic Design B.F.A.), Kelly Sullivan and Doug Moreland, received $5,000. Paint.Team’s mission is to inspire creativity and collaboration through a web application that allows users to team up and create finished works of art from anywhere in the world.

  • AMAZING INDUSTRIES, founded by Brett Wallace ’19 (Studio Art M.F.A.), received $5,000. The venture is a R&D startup exploring the future of work in the digital age. Through the use of investigative journalism, writing, documentary video and installation and other disciplines, AMAZING INDUSTRIES researches questions such as how are new technologies, such as AI, transforming work.

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.

Made possible through funding from the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation, this year’s UP/Start contest began Feb. 1 when eight finalists were selected from a total of 27 applicants following their presentations at a “pop up and pitch” event. In the weeks leading up to the finale, the eight finalists worked closely with individual mentors from the Baltimore business community to hone their presentations and business pitches.

The winners were selected by a panel of judges comprised of local business and investment leaders, including John Cammack, Managing Partner, Cammack Associates LLC; Marjie Cota, VP Strategic Partnerships & Market Development, Harbor Designs; Hakim Dyer, CEO, Dyer Bermingham; Tracey Halverson ‘98, President & Chief Visionary Officer, Fastspot; and Jim Wright, Co-trustee, Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation.

For more information about UP/Start, visit: micapreneurship.com.