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4 McDaniel student entrepreneurs take on the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge

The ventures, ranging from a youth enrichment nonprofit to a snack service for students, demonstrate the college's focus on entrepreneurship.

Senior Joshua Arruda (center) and Hiq Basketball won first place in the 2022 Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge. (Courtesy photo from McDaniel College)
Update: Since the initial publication of this article, sophomore Javon Spencer of New Castle, Delaware won the challenge and earned $5,000 for the student-focused recycling app ReDorm. Runner-up Emily Trachoo of College Park, Maryland won $1,000 for the Asian fusion food stand Y LIME. The People's Choice award and $1,000 went to youth-targeted nonprofit Kiy Productions and its founder, junior Kiyara Fleming of Baltimore. The Community Changer award went to sophomore Eric Grinwis of Laurel, Maryland, whose TATMANERC focuses on providing a unique tattoo experience. (4/21/2023, 9:57 a.m.)  

A quartet of McDaniel College pupils, hailing from throughout Maryland and Delaware, will arrive at their private liberal arts school’s Roj Student Center Thursday evening with the goal of showcasing innovative business ideas — and maybe winning thousands of dollars.

The four finalists will compete for a grand prize of $5,000, along with three $1,000 prizes, at the 2023 Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge. The event will take place at 7 p.m. in Naganna Forum on the Westminster, Maryland-based college’s campus and is open to the public. The challenge is the final stage of McDaniel’s five-week training program, which helps students develop innovative ideas and prepares them to present to judges and a broader audience.

Jennifer Yang has served as the entrepreneur-in-residence for McDaniel’s Program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship since 2021. Although Yang offered business strategy guidance and instruction to five students throughout the five-week program. program director Mike Looney told that one of the participants dropped out, stating: “It was just too much for her to do with all she’s got on her plate.” 

The remaining four participants completed the program, which is open to students in any major and aims to develop core entrepreneurial skills. As a result of their work, each participant is eligible to receive $800 toward their venture.

Judges for the event include Mel Brennan, executive director of McDaniel’s Center for Experience and Opportunity; Graham Dodge, executive director of MAGIC; and Brooke Hagerty, a local entrepreneur and health coach. 

In addition to the $800 per venture, Looney told that program participants receive mentorship from Yang. He also noted the growth of participation in the school’s entrepreneurship minor.”

“More alumni and community leaders are noticing what we’re doing and wanting to participate, and we’re creating an ecosystem here of people that want to support our youth as they embark on chasing their dreams,” he said, adding: “It’s so cool to see how it all comes together. And the students have really been working hard and it shows. So hopefully, we’ll all stand tall and deliver well tonight, and it will be an exciting evening.” 

Those who cannot make it up to Westminister can catch the Community Media Center of Carroll County’s broadcast of the students’ presentations on cable channel HD-1086 and streamed live from the colleges’ Community Media Center.

Watch the challenge on Facebook

Watch the challenge on YouTube

Meet this year’s finalists

Sophomore business administration major Eric Grinwis of Laurel, Maryland created TATMANERC, a video that captures all phases of the tattooing process to provide a unique tattoo experience. Grinwis hopes to create an empire of high-quality tattoo shops around the world.

Junior sociology major Kiyara Fleming from Baltimore will present Kiy Productions, a nonprofit organization that aims to develop a mini-documentary series to assist at-risk youth with essential life skills like money management, cooking, credit and college readiness.

Javon Spencer, a sophomore business administration major from New Castle, Delaware developed ReDorm, a recycling app that connects college students who need furniture, room accessories, textbooks or similar reusable goods with those downsizing and preventing perfectly adequate items from going to waste.

Y LIME is an Asian fusion stand offering healthy and nutritious food and drinks to McDaniel College students. The business aims to provide tasty, affordable and easily accessible options to pupils. Creator Emily Trachoo, a junior marketing major from College Park, Maryland, plans to expand to other colleges with limited access to diverse and healthy offerings. 

The fifth student would have been first-year marketing major Kaylah Rashid from Glen Burnie, Maryland. Her Gem Assistant LLC  provides personalized support for business owners who are overwhelmed and need help with tasks like social media management and website updates.


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