TU’s accelerator ready to StarTUp

Inaugural, virtual event highlighted accelerator’s initial cohort

By Kyle Hobstetter on December 3, 2020

When Towson University’s Executive Director of Entrepreneurship Patrick McQuown arrived on campus in February, the StarTUp Accelerator was one of his first priorities. Ten months later, McQuown and the Accelerator reached one of their first major milestones.

On Dec. 3, the StarTUp Accelerator fellows introduced themselves at the TU StarTUp Accelerator Showcase, livestreamed on the Division of Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research (SPAR) website.

The StarTUp Accelerator was planned to be an in-person residency in summer 2020. Things didn’t pan out as planned. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, six startups collaborated to accelerate their ventures—virtually—for eight weeks during the fall. 

Each member started with a $10,000 equity-free stipend and received mentorship from McQuown and alumni of other accelerator programs.

“TU’s greatest impact can be made in the areas of entrepreneurship and leadership, and it starts with programs like this,” said Towson University President Kim Schatzel in her opening remarks.

“[The StarTUp Accelerator] reflects the university-wide effort to place entrepreneurship and leadership as a university priority. With programs like the accelerator, TU is well positioned for leadership at this exciting juncture.”

Emma Simpson, Venture for America’s Baltimore community manager, introduced three ventures: Halal Beauty, SmartBridge Health and Lockbox Adventures.

“Programs like the Towson University StarTUp Accelerator are fundamental to the success of our work and the success of our fellows,” Simpson said in her introduction.

Halal Beauty was founded by Adeel Afshar, a Venture for America alumna. It is a 100% halal certified makeup brand for women around the world.

Other fellows of the StarTUp Accelerator cohort include SmartBridge Health, which connects patients, caregivers and survivors with top cancer doctors for remote consultations, expert second opinions and clinical trial navigation, and Lockbox Adventures, a game where players get a locked box without a combination. They must solve a series of puzzles to reveal the combination and gain access to their prize.

Related story: Towson University introduces new StarTUp Accelerator

The cohort’s other three ventures presented five-minute pitches. Each fellow showcased their products, business models, monetization strategies, and team members.  

Shark Market is the only member of the StarTUp Accelerator cohort made up entirely of college students—four from three TU colleges and another from UMD College Park. The concept is a sports betting platform that combines classic sports betting with aspects of fantasy sports.

Flave was co-founded by TU alumnus and computer science lecturer Jal Irani, with Derek Battle and James Soldinger. It is a mobile app that incentivizes foodies to eat local instead of at chain restaurants through gamification and personalized friend recommendations.

StoCastic, which was co-founded by Dr. Jeremiah Hinson, Eric Hamrock and Scott Levin, provides ground-breaking products and services that harness large-scale electronic health record (EHR) data to give care teams real-time predictive insight for smoother, more affordable care.

In the future, the StarTUp Accelerator Showcase is planned to be held at The StarTUP at The Armory[BROKEN LINK], a 20,000-square-foot, two-story facility located at the historic Maryland National Guard Armory property in downtown Towson. The building will open in spring 2021.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: BTU-Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore.