These creative ventures pitched at MICA's Up/Start venture competition - Baltimore


Apr. 6, 2018 12:51 pm

These creative ventures pitched at MICA’s Up/Start venture competition

The ventures ranged from virtual reality to sustainable furniture to witty party decorations. Here's a look at who took home more than $100K in funding.

The award winners at MICA Up/Start 2018.

(Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Six creative ventures got funded Wednesday at the finals of MICA’s Up/Start Venture Competition.

In its third year, the competition saw startups working in medical illustration, media and party products.

The entrepreneurship program picks finalists from an initial pop-up event in February, the pairs them with mentors from the Baltimore tech and innovation community from spots like Harbor Designs, Human Being Studio, Early Charm Ventures and video game companies including Big Huge, Digital Steamworks and Sparkypants Studios.

In all, more than $100,000 was awarded on Wednesday night. Here are highlights from the pitches at this year’s finals:

  • Fairman Studios: Jennifer Fairman, a Master’s student in MICA’s Business of Art and Design program, won $30,000 to grow her visual communication services for health sciences. The studio has shades of Baltimore’s creative and scientific sides, specializing in illustration, animation and infographics. She’s getting ready to launch a new product called Illustr8science, which draws on an archive of 4,500 images she’s created.
Jennifer Fairman pitches Fairman Studios at MICA Up/Start 2018. (photo by Stephen Babcock)

Jennifer Fairman pitches Fairman Studios at MICA Up/Start 2018. (photo by Stephen Babcock)

  • The LongformJ.S. Gleason and Nick Clinkscales won $25,000 to help launch a media platform focused on the video game community. As we reported earlier this week, they’re focused on the culture of games.
  • Boba Studios Game design students Ashely Guchhait, Kyrstin Cooksey, Donald Boose and Peabody student T.J. Martin launched their debut video game Squirrely Roo Rabbit, which involves using color theory to solve environmental challenges. On Wednesday, the team picked up $20,000 as they seek to create games that combine what they love about indie and major title games.
  • Chameleon Gallery: MFA students Yi-An P‘an and Haoran Chang created a platform to help artists sell their work online. With virtual reality, they aim to make it a place to display contemporary work in a gallery-like setting, as well as make money. They won $10,000, which will help release more exhibitions.
  • Rising Action Studio: Ashley Eberhart, a Master’s student in social design is looking to help nonprofits and other impact-oriented groups build workplaces focused on creativity and storytelling. She won $10,000.
Rising Action Studio.

Rising Action Studio.

  • Social Butterfly: Graphic design student Christina Hyrkas is looking to get more interaction going at events and social gatherings with party products that help start the conversation with a little wit. The line includes cups, dessert signs and decorations. She won $5,000 by topping the People’s Choice Award vote from the audience at the event.

Don't be afraid to be the first to say hi, it could lead to something big!


A post shared by Social Butterfly© (@socialbutterflybrand) on

  • POKDO Studio: Claire Cho and Paul Lai created a studio that’s bringing virtual reality to social issues. They’re also aiming to create a digital media academy to inspire the next generation.
  • Vell Papel: The furniture company is looking to reduce waste with Otto, a lightweight piece that’s designed for easy assembly and flexible use. It’s the product of Brent Aguilar and Jennifer Smith.
Vell Papel's Otto.

Vell Papel’s Otto.


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