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

Seed funding awarded to 6 MICA student and alumni teams for their creative innovative businesses.

Fairman Studios, LLC , The Longform, Boba Studios , Chameleon Gallery and Rising Action Studios were the top prize winners of the Maryland Institute College of Art’s (MICA) third annual UP/Start Venture Competition.

As announced at the finale event on April 4, the medical illustrations company, Fairman Studios, LLC, founded by Jennifer ‘Jeni’ Fairman ’17 (Business of Art & Design M.P.S.) was awarded $30,000 in seed funding.

The Longform, a subscription-based content provider covering video games, comics and related media, founded by Interactive Arts B.F.A. students J.S. Gleason and Ash Turner along with Nick Clinkscales ’17 (Interactive Arts B.F.A.), was awarded $25,000.

Seed funding was also awarded to:

  • Boba Studios ($20,000), a gaming business founded by Ashley Guchhait ’17 (Interactive Arts B.F.A.), Donald Boose ’17 (Interactive Arts B.F.A.), Animation B.F.A. student Kyrstin Cooksey and T.J. Martin.
  • Chameleon Gallery ($15,000), which focuses on exhibiting, promoting, distributing and selling virtual artwork by LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting M.F.A. student Yi-An Pan and Mount Royal School of Art M.F.A. student Haoran Chang.
  • Rising Action Studio ($10,000), which helps change makers and nonprofits tell stories about social impact movements around the world, was founded by M.A. in Social Design student Ashley Eberhart.
  • Social Butterfly, a collection of party products designed to take the anxiety out of social gatherings that was founded by Christina Hyrkas ’17 (Graphic Design B.F.A.), was awarded $5,000 for the People’s Choice Award.

“These finalists are artists, designers, makers, and entrepreneurs wrapped into a single package. They show us new ways creatives contribute to our society and our economy,” said MICA President Samuel Hoi at the event.

An initiative of MICApreneurship, spearheaded by the Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Career Development, UP/Start focuses on building creative business ventures within the College community, and provides capital and mentorship with industry partners to help nurture ideas into sustainable businesses.

Made possible through funding from the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation, this year’s UP/Start contest began Feb. 2, with more than 20 applicants representing 15 MICA programs at a “pop up and pitch” event. In the weeks leading up to the finale, the eight finalists worked closely with individual mentors from the Baltimore business community to hone their presentations and business pitches.

A panel of judges composed of local business and community leaders selected the winning teams. This year’s judges included John Cammack, managing partner, Cammack Associates LLC; Jim Wright, Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation; Hakim Dyer, partner, Dyer Bermingham; Tracey Halvorsen ’98, president and chief visionary officer, Fastspot; and Diana Torruella Gaines, founder and managing partner, Tu Casa Development Group.