New ventures coming to StarTUp Accelerator

Entrepreneurship hub welcomes 16 new ventures to award-winning program

By TOWSON UNIVERSITY on April 24, 2024

Patrick McQuown speaking during Accelerator showcase.
Patrick McQuown, executive director of entrepreneurship at Towson University and founder of the StarTUp Accelerator, will lead the new founders through an eight-week entrepreneurial fellowship. (Alexander Wright | Towson University)

The Towson University StarTUp Accelerator proudly unveils its sixth cohort, marking a significant milestone in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in Baltimore County and the state of Maryland. With a record number of applications, the selection process was fiercely competitive, resulting in an exceptional cohort comprising individuals with diverse backgrounds and groundbreaking ventures.

Among the accepted founders are esteemed medical doctors, award winners from prominent national entrepreneurship competitions, PhDs and a former Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl champion. This eclectic mix reflects the breadth of talent and innovation driving the region’s entrepreneurial landscape.

The ventures featured in this cohort span a wide range of industries, including consumer packaged goods, green technology, health care innovation, water treatment and more. Each venture brings a unique perspective and solution to the table, promising to make a meaningful impact on their respective fields.

“This cohort represents the epitome of innovation and determination,” remarked Patrick McQuown, executive director of entrepreneurship at Towson University and founder of the StarTUp Accelerator. “We are thrilled to welcome these exceptional founders into our accelerator and look forward to supporting their journeys toward success.”

  • CERTIFIED BLLR (Justin Johnson) is a wearable device to improve basketball shooting accuracy and muscle memory.
  • ZenJoy (Mack Anderson, Daniel Osborne, Tim Brumbaugh) is a proprietary iced tea blend that contains ingredients to help consumers relax.
  • LIMs+ (Mike Gaumer and Dacian Florea) offers unique features that allow water testing labs to cut processing time in half.
  • JMD Innovations (DBA jbrds) (Mike Gugat, Dr. Jay LeBow, David Hirshfeld, Sameel Osuri) creates patent-pending shoes designed specifically for infants.
  • Truuce (Nancy Johnston and Kerry Roberts) is reinventing the ever-frustrating duvet cover.
  • Advance Sports AI (Obafemi Ayanbadejo) predictive sports analytics.
  • TANTV (Adedayo Fashanu, Abolaji Omitogun) is an editorial and subscription streaming service catering to the African and multicultural diaspora.
  • UfarmX (Andrea Kamara-Dunbar, Alexander Zanders) is revolutionizing agriculture by integrating supply chain management and data collection.
  • JJ Innovative Materials (Taein Lee, Mark Wo, Chu Ding) is reinventing construction materials to be carbon negative, stronger and less costly.
  • MIVA Recovery (Dustin Hux, Michael DeFeo) is a patent-pending combination sports roller and water bottle in one.
  • NORAD LLC (Kumlachew Hirgeto, Diego Toledo) is a lost and found app.
  • Revvl (Alexandra “Lexx” Mills, Livv Mills) is rebelling against mundane mocktails with boldly crafted zero proof drinks.
  • Supported by the Maryland Department of Veteran Affairs, Hotlines Sports (Casey Jones, Stephen “Steve” Haley) provides data and analytics for sports betting.
  • Sponsored by MedStar Health, Somnair (Mitchell Turley, Dr. Anders Sideris) is the first non-invasive neurostimulation solution for sleep apnea.
  • AEAIS (Association for Elite Athletes’ Individual Success) (Allison Benson O'Brien) is a social venture solving athlete transition with a scalable and empirical solution.

Also joining these ventures is Antidote Haircare, a plant-powered haircare brand developed by Abigail Kuehl, a Towson University College of Business and Economics student. Kuehl recently won the third annual College Cup, a university-wide challenge for student-led ventures, and received entry into the accelerator.

The other six College Cup finalists will make up a second cohort of student-run ventures.

“Through academic programs and competitions like the College Cup, TU supports students in exploring entrepreneurial pursuits,” said Melanie Perreault, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Towson University. “I’m excited for this second cohort of student-led ventures. It will provide the student founders with invaluable experiences and lessons that bridge knowledge gained in the classroom with real-world applications that can only help expand student success.”

Funding for the StarTUp Accelerator comes from Baltimore County Workforce and Economic Development, demonstrating a commitment to nurturing entrepreneurial talent and fostering economic growth in the region. “The StarTUp Accelerator plays a pivotal role in empowering local entrepreneurs and driving innovation forward in Baltimore County,” said County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “We are proud to support this initiative and eager to see the impact of these ventures in our communities.”

In addition to Baltimore County's support, the sixth cohort of the StarTUp Accelerator welcomes new sponsors who have generously funded select ventures and founders. MedStar Health, a leading healthcare provider, has sponsored Somnair, a groundbreaking initiative out of Johns Hopkins focused on improving sleep health.

Also new for 2024 is an overall sponsorship from Nemphos Braue, a boutique corporate law firm with strong ties to the startup community and a focus on partnering with clients to strategically position their businesses for success. “We are proud to support the next generation of innovators through our sponsorship of the StarTUp Accelerator," said George Nemphos, managing member of Nemphos Braue. "We believe in the power of entrepreneurship to drive positive change and are excited to see the impact of these ventures on our community and beyond."

As part of the Maryland Joins Forces initiative, Towson University Advancement worked with the Maryland Department of Veteran Affairs (MDVA) to fund a veteran fellow. MDVA Secretary Tony Woods expressed his support for the program and highlighted the importance of sponsoring Marine Corps veteran-founder Casey Jones. “Veterans throughout Maryland are economic drivers,” said Woods. “As a fellow veteran, I’m proud to support Casey and his entrepreneurial endeavors. The leadership, problem-solving and resiliency skills that veterans gain through military service are hallmarks of the entrepreneurial spirit. The StarTUp Accelerator provides invaluable opportunities for veterans to apply these entrepreneurial skills to the benefit of us all.”

The Towson University StarTUp Accelerator continues to serve as a catalyst for innovation, providing aspiring entrepreneurs with the resources, mentorship and support they need to turn their visions into reality. As the sixth cohort embarks on this transformative journey, the future of entrepreneurship in Baltimore County, and Maryland, shines brighter than ever before.

About Towson University
Towson University is Maryland’s university of opportunities. With more than 150 years of experience pushing possibilities, TU is a nationally recognized leader in inclusive excellence, social mobility, research and discovery. As the largest university in greater Baltimore, TU’s momentum is always accelerating, with nearly 20,000 students and 200 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs in the liberal arts and sciences and applied professional fields. Located amid one of the East Coast’s cultural and economic epicenters, TU is a beacon and powerful catalyst in the Mid-Atlantic, partnering with hundreds of businesses and organizations, impacting communities and fueling change. TU meets the holistic needs of each student to achieve success, a result of a deeply inclusive culture with a focus on equity among all students, faculty and staff.