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Meghan Plate

By | Innovation, People, Rochester

Hidden Talent: Underground Stone’s Industry Mixer

By Lakeya Callaway

On Saturday May 4, 2019, the Founder and Designer of Underground Stone (a clothing brand), Lakeya Callaway, held an event called Hidden Talent: Underground Stone’s Industry Mixer.

The goal for the event was to allow entrepreneurs to be seen and to raise awareness about their business, network with likeminded individuals, and receive great advice from David Mammano, an adjunct professor at the University of Rochester and serial entrepreneur who has started seven businesses.

Six businesses were represented at this event: Underground Stone (Lakeya Callaway), DC Premium & Don Carvajal Cafe (Hector Castillo Carvajal), Rochester Artist Collaborative (Adam Eaton & Walta Leake), Una Business Cards (Shelley Chen), and Southside Studios (Eugene Nichols). In addition to that, there were over 30 people in attendance that were interested in learning about the businesses listed above. The feedback given about this event ensures that the goals were met. Here’s what a few of the entrepreneurs had to say:

Eugene Nichols, founder of Southside Studios, was one of the featured entrepreneurs. Southside Studios aims to enhance community through artistic expression in the South Side of Chicago. Following the event, Eugene said, “Lakeya’s event was extremely inspiring! She managed to provide an opportunity for other entrepreneurs to build their brands, all while providing us with the opportunity to connect with David Mammano. The event flow was extremely smooth and I’m looking forward to seeing this event continue!”

“I like the crowd. People are genuinely interested in learning more about startups and business – this was a great event that allows students to learn about startups on campus,” noted Shelley Chen. Shelley is the founder of Una Business Cards, a graphic design company that helps university students and business owners create personalized business card designs and logos.

Hector Castillo Carvajal utilized the showcase to feature Don Carvajal Cafe, his specialty coffee brand with a social entrepreneurship focus. He said, “the Hidden Talent event was successful. It was very helpful for my small business to gain exposure, and bringing the right form of exposure that student businesses and startups need.”

Overall, Lakeya was extremely satisfied knowing that Hidden Talent: Underground Stone’s Industry Mixer created a space where entrepreneurs could talk to students about their businesses, network and have a good time. Moving forward, she is considering making Hidden Talent an annual event.

Lakeya Callaway ’21 is a rising Junior from Washington DC. She had an entrepreneurial spirit since she can remember. She started her entrepreneurial journey as a middle school student selling handmade Waist Beads, Headbands and Snacks & Beverages. From that, she learned valuable skills that she still uses today! Her passion for entrepreneurship is something that she takes pride in.

By | Innovation, People, Rochester

2019 Swarm Starter Competition

By Ain Center Staff

Are you ready to celebrate Meliora Weekend with the Ain Center? We’re hosting our first-ever Swarm Starter Competition on Saturday, October 5! This challenge will have the setup of ABC’s Shark Tank, with quick pitches and Q&A with our panel of distinguished judges.

The best part, though? The audience gets to decide who takes home the $20,000 cash prize! We’ll be sharing the voting info in real-time during the event, which you’ll also be able to watch via livestream video on our Facebook page.

Interested in learning more about the competition? Visit our Swarm Starter webpage – we’ll post the winner following the event!

By | Innovation, People, Rochester

Summer 2019 at StartFast

By Akshay Rajput

StartFast is a mentorship-driven startup accelerator. Each year they invest in 5-7 software, mobile, or IoT companies & host a 3-month program. StartFast’s program is a highly selective, accepting just 0.25% of applicants; smaller cohorts allow them to tailor the program to the needs of each individual team. They invest $25,000 upfront, with up-to $100,000 in follow-up funding. Teams are plugged into a network of world-class entrepreneurs, investors, corporate executives, and subject matter experts to help take their company to the next level.

StartFast’s leadership team has founded multiple companies, raised more than $350 MM in capital, had $250 MM exits, & $1 B IPO. StartFast uses their network of over 100+ world-class mentors to help entrepreneurs get in front of the right people to accelerate the growth of the company.

This summer, StartFast mentored and invested in the following early stage companies:

As a StartFast summer associate, I had the opportunity to help develop a promising group of startup companies that moved to Syracuse for the summer from across North America. I not only assisted with the daily operations of the StartFast program but also aided the companies in areas of need. I used my specialized skills in marketing and strategy, expanded my knowledge to help the startups design and develop applications, perform market research, prepare due diligence materials, understand markets, channels and competition, formulate strategy/financial pro-formas and other tasks from time to time. In assisting with the program’s daily operations, I prepared for and organized events, assisted with marketing, and provided content for social media.

For multiple companies at StartFast, I strategized and led the execution of lifecycle-based email marketing programs and lead-generation campaigns. Additionally, I led the development and implementation of multi-touch, multi-channel marketing programs inclusive of inbound and outbound tactics, utilized HubSpot to create, deploy and track campaigns, and update key metrics report to stakeholders.

This summer I was able to substantially grow my personal and professional network by connecting with a wide variety of experienced mentors, entrepreneurs and investors. From participating in mentor meetings to attending many community-wide social events, as a StartFast summer associate, I gained a unique perspective on the entrepreneurial ecosystem and beyond.

I believe that this experience at StartFast complements the formal education provided through the Technical Entrepreneurship and Management (TEAM) program and is a must-have exposure for budding entrepreneurs. I am grateful and appreciate all the efforts taken by the staff at the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship in providing me with this unique internship opportunity.

Akshay Rajput ’19 (MS) has been working with multinational companies since his graduation. He holds expertise in field of business development, marketing, and resource management. Akshay’s latest experience stems from being a digital media & business development manager for a branding firm. He is currently a Masters candidate in the Technical Entrepreneurship and Management program, with a concentration in Energy & the Environment.