Towson University’s recently opened StarTUp at the Armory played host to a showcase event to cap the university’s accelerator program this month.
On Friday, Oct. 8, leaders of seven companies that took part in this year’s StarTUp Accelerator presented on their accomplishments and progress during the eight-week program. It was less of a pitch, and more of a celebration of the strides each startup has made since inception, and where the founders are expecting it to go.
The accelerator program, which is in its second year under TU Executive Director of Entrepreneurship Patrick McQuown, is open to companies founded by TU students, as well as entrepreneurs from around the Baltimore area. Each company received a stipend, programming and mentorship, as well as access to space at the 26,000-square-foot space in downtown Towson.
Here’s a look at the companies:
Veena Radhakrishnan and Patrick Dempsey created the learner-centered, data-driven online discussion platform that creates student-driven discussions with easily accessible insights into trending ideas and emerging themes generated by students, turning ideas into knowledge. Since releasing its beta application in 2019, it now has over 4,000 users at over 30 colleges and universities. The venture was formerly called Pretzl.
Plugged Technologies Inc.
A SaaS diversity recruiting venture, this company has an app similar to Tinder that’s designed for job recruitment. It connects HBCUs with large companies to create job opportunities. Founded by Victor Ehienulo and Madiagne Sarr, the company announced its partnership with Howard University and that it has over 150 companies on its platform, with plans to add five more HBCUs in the DMV area over the course of the year.
The leaders of this online vehicle sales marketplace for collector and modified vehicles said the company has over 2,000 users on its app, and 50,000 followers on its Instagram. It was founded by Brendon Mellinger, Michael Wyman, Jack Bauerle and Josh Bloom and has the distinction as the only startup in the cohort founded by current Towson University students.
Founded by Colin Dougherty, the consumer-facing company is focused on protection and customization of end-users’ cameras, drones, lenses and GoPros. During the presentation, Dougherty said the company has customers in every state and on every continent, with $25,000 in sales the month of September.
Cofounders Jal Irani and Derek Battle were returning to the cohort as mentors after being cohort members last year. The company created an app that gamifies dining at local restaurants. They found that the average user spends 11 minutes on their app, compared to the five and six minutes typical of other iOS and Android apps. The company’s traction has quadrupled every quarter and they expect well over a thousand active users when the app leaves beta.
The company was founded by Delaney Fox, who unfortunately couldn’t make it in person. But she recorded a video and McQuown stepped in for the presentation. McQuown let the audience know about the strides the online platform offering 216 local care providers for parents is currently making, like its current revenue of $50,000 a month and the upcoming launch of the Minutes 4 Moms mobile app.
The 2 percent
The nonprofit, founded by Syracuse University football players Terrel K. Hunt, Wayne Morgan and Jeremiah Kobena, is working to ensure athletes have mental health care, financial literacy, life planning and career guidance to prepare for the time when their careers end. The founders highlighted the affiliations and cosigns they already have with scores of athletes like NFL running back and Baltimore native Todd Gurley. The company was formerly called Good Choice Productions.
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-