Arts / Environment / Pitches / Small businesses / Startups

These 8 creative startups are finalists in MICA Up/Start Venture Competition 2020

The ventures include products that make sustainability and raising awareness a part of their models. Finalists will pitch for $100,000 on April 14.

Inside MICA Up/Start's "pop-up and pitch" event on Feb. 7, 2020. (Courtesy photo)

MICA’s Brown Center was filled with entrepreneurial energy on a recent Friday, as 37 ventures founded by students and alumni demoed to kick off the Bolton Hill arts college’s 2020 Up/Start Venture Competition.

At the “pop-up and pitch” event, judges selected eight finalists who will move on to the final pitch night on April 14. They’ll now be paired up with a mentor from the Baltimore entrepreneurship community to help refine business plans.

This is the fifth year of the Up/Start competition, which is open to alumni and students from the classes of 2019 and 2020. Part of a wider entrepreneurship initiative designed to supply art school grads with business skills, it comes after MICA launched the Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship in the fall, which followed a $5 million gift from the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation.

At the April event, $100,000 in funding will be awarded to winners who are selected by a second panel of judges, and another $5,000 will be awarded through a people’s choice award. MICA is also providing support for prototyping, website development and peer mentoring from past winners.

Check out the eight finalists (with description info from MICA):

  • Hadassah Dowuona is a Ghanaian-American textile and graphic designer seeking to “promote cultural awareness, unite Africans and the African Diaspora and to celebrate black heritage through fashion.”
  • M Strickland Design, founded by M Strickland, is a human-centered design studio that works with social services organizations.
  • Makers for Humankind, founded by Mikea Hugely, created the HM1’s, “all-in-one” shoes that function as both a sneaker and sandal, with parts that can switched out depending on what the occasion calls for.
  • The Maryland Institute Black Archive, founded by Deyane Moses, is sharing the stories of MICA’s first black artists, and the accomplishments of those who attempted to study from 1896 to 1954, but could not because the school did not admit black students until the 1950s. The Baltimore Sun wrote about the project last year.
  • Photo Story Workshop, founded by Heidi Good Boncana, is an education platform for youth that uses a “photo voice” method, designed to encourage discussion of social issues and promotion of social change.
  • Pura, founded by Claire Chuff, is an ecommerce company that is making and marketing sustainable skincare products, developing a makeup brush set.
  • Small Island Clothing, founded by Sara Stanton, is a company that makes genderless ties designed for transgender and gender nonconforming folks.
  • Stitch and Destroy, founded by Haven DeAnglis, produces punk clothing using recycled materials. The company received $500 via a people’s choice award at the pop-up and pitch event.
Companies: Maryland Institute College of Art

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