UP/Start Venture Competition

MICA Awards Over $100K to Creative Entrepreneurs at 2022 UP/Start Finale

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is thrilled to announce this year’s UP/Start Venture Competition winners, who were chosen after an April 12 finale, and received over $100k in combined funding.

This year’s winning ventures focus on equitable hiring for diverse creatives, office furniture for the neurodiverse community, software to create more equitable conversations, a self care deck for breaking artist blocks, and a tool library of at home/take home medical devices.

Blvck Door, the venture of Iman Carr ’22 (Design Leadership MA/MBA) and Shakeel Alexander, won $40K 

Blvck Door is an online platform that bridges the gap between creatives of color and employers who see the benefits of an equitable, diversified workforce.

Read their full profile here.

Compressent Co., the venture of Herschel Ruben ’21 (Product Design BFA), won $30K

Compressent Desk Chair is for people who experience overstimulation of the nervous system and need a calming mechanism to be productive in their everyday lives. Deep pressure touch, particularly when it can be self-controlled with Compressent, is a means of alleviating the need to calm down by disconnecting. Finding a way for this to be applied in everyday life led to designing the Compressent Co. Desk Chair, a product that can be used—without stigma—in any work environment.

Read their full profile here.

Convo, the venture of Emma Koramshahi ’22 (Design Leadership MA/MBA) and Julia Breskin ’22 (Design Leadership MA/MBA), won $15K

Let Convo be your team’s newest advocate for compassion.

Convo is a framework for virtual team meetings and a data visualization application. Through our four-step process, Convo lowers social barriers in the virtual work environment and normalizes emotional openness and self-awareness between teammates and leadership. Convo offers real-time feedback to employees about how their actions and leadership styles are perceived by their team. In this way, Convo helps businesses build pathways for inclusion, diversity, and wellness. Let Convo be your team’s newest advocate for compassion.

The team at Convo has the spark and the drive. We want UP/Start to be the catalyst to realizing our dream of self-reflective conversation in a virtual environment.

Read their full profile here.

‘Knock the Block,’ the venture of Book Karnjanakit ’21 (Illustration Practice MFA), won $12K 

"Knock the Block" is a gentle deck of creative and self-care card prompts to help people overcome this universal artistic challenge. Place the deck within reach, and whenever encountering an art block, just pick a card (or a few!) and follow through with the prompts. Every card is playfully illustrated with the goal of bringing a smile to the readers’ faces.

Each “Knock the Block” deck contains 60 cards divided into 3 different categories: subject prompts, technique prompts, and self-care prompts.

Read their full profile here.

Pharma-D, the venture of Kristen Karlovich ’21 (Product Design BFA), won the $5K People's Choice Award

Pharma-D is a tool library of at home/take home medical devices that gives more widespread and easier access to taking care and monitoring an individual's health. Pharma-D does not replace urgent cares, hospitals, or average doctors offices, but rather enables people to make informative choices on their health care.

There are so many medical devices on the market that most people don’t know they have access to. Everything from monitors that can detect cancers, to different types of electronic stethoscopes, and heart monitors that can detect heart attacks or emotional distress days in advance.

Pharma-D would allow people to access and understand their own health. Pharma-D would allow individuals to make educated decisions and give professionals more insight on the health and care one needs. Pharma-D would help cut down on the cost of unnecessary, highly expensive testing, detrimental waiting times of tests, and be an aid to medical professionals and facilities.

Read their full profile here.

The three remaining ventures, Mira, the venture of Jana Thompson ’21 (UX Design MPS), Core Immersive Labs, the venture of Paolo Narciso ’22 (Data Analytics & Visualization MPS), and Pharma-D will receive a $1,000 stipend each for their participation.

The UP/Start Venture Competition, now in its seventh year, is an initiative of MICApreneurship and the Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship, and focuses on incubating and building creative business ventures within the MICA community. The finalists will competed for seed funding totaling $105,000, funded by the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation, at the finale event.

Learn more about UP/Start here: https://micapreneurship.weebly.com/