Education / Events / Startups / Universities

5 student startups we met at Innov8MD

The event brought together students from nine universities at Spark Baltimore.

Innov8MD's 2018 event featured demos from 40 student startups. (Photo by Stephen Babcock) is a media partner of the Innov8MD conference.

Baltimore’s universities are frequently recognized as a source of talent that can help to grow the tech community. In recent years, it’s become more evident that the students also recognize their role in creating the companies that could grow, even before they graduate.
A Friday night event showed there’s numbers behind that realization, as Innov8MD held its inaugural event gathering student entrepreneurs at Spark Baltimore. The organization is made up of student groups from nine universities, each of whom organized entrepreneurs to participate and demo at the event. Spearheaded by Johns Hopkins entrepreneur and cofounder of TCO Labs Pava LaPere and Matthew Lowinger of Towson University, the event included Johns Hopkins, MICA, Towson University, Morgan State, University of Maryland College Park, UMBC, University of Baltimore, University of Maryland-Baltimore and Loyola University Maryland.
Along with meeting others and grabbing some time at the speed mentoring table, the students heard from local entrepreneurs such as Straighterline Founder Burck Smith, Betamore cofounder Greg Cangialosi, Olive Founder Sean Lane, cofounder of Moms as Entrepreneurs and The Cube Dr. Tammira Lucas and TransitioningU Founder Mustafa Wahid.
The event played host to some of the startups we’ve featured before, such as Shelby Blondell’s University of Baltimore Attman Prize–winning The Sheller, and MICA-made Guitars by Evil Evil.
In all, about 40 student startups were onhand. Here’s a few new faces we met around the demo floor:

OCA Mocha

(L to R) OCA Mocha's Deep Patel, Naham Nega and Michael Berardi. (photo by Stephen Babcock)

(L to R) OCA Mocha’s Deep Patel, Naham Nega and Michael Berardi. (photo by Stephen Babcock)

A new social enterprise is coming to UMBC, and it serves coffee. Oca Mocha aims to help the campus get more connected with the surrounding community in Artubus. The coffee shop has a community space to welcome in neighbors. Additionally, it will house the Office of Community Affairs (That’s where the OCA comes from). Opening date: Spring 2019.


The startup created a device to detect sepsis. The blood infection can be life-threatening if not treated. GermoSense’s test looks to speed up the time it takes to determine whether it is present. Mustafa Al-Adhami founded the company out of UMBC.


Dare2Bee Cofounder Haleemat Adekoya. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Dare2Bee Cofounder Haleemat Adekoya. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Haleemat Adekoya was representing high school entrepreneurs at the event with Dare2Bee. The organization, founded by Adekoya and Leandra Ngameduru seeks to empower girls ages 9-18 in Baltimore with mentorship and opportunities to get involved in the community through volunteering. On December 1, they will be hosting a showcase of their own. Dare2Bee is hosting the second edition of its GirlOnFire exposition at Towson University’s Student Launch Pad featuring business owners, creators, coders, artists and more.

Olympus Projects

Zubin Gadhoke and Peter Robinson of Olympus Projects. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Zubin Gadhoke and Peter Robinson of Olympus Projects. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Zubin Gadhoke and Peter Robinson is looking to help musicians navigate music’s digital realm. The UMD cofounders work with musicians and bands to grow the business side of the craft. They help with brand, strategy and data analysis. Gadhoke said it was important to help musicians retain independence.


Checking out MPLEX at Innov8MD. (Courtesy photo)

Checking out MPLEX at Innov8MD. (Courtesy photo)

The demo floor included a chance to sample virtual reality, with this edition coming courtesy of MPLEX. UMD’s Galen Stetsyuk and Mikhail Sorokin created a map with diverse terrain for multiple players to navigate while driving in a tank, and eventually engaging in combat with other players.

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