Eleven students, dressed in their best business attire, stood at the front of the Screening Room inside Drexel University’s URBN Center eagerly awaiting results on the evening of August 14. On the line were two $5,000 awards, the culminating piece of a six-week camp wherein eight teams composed of local college undergraduates and graduates formed concepts for creative and socially-minded startups. They developed those concepts into the bases of potentially fundable companies and presented their ideas to a panel of judges and an audience of around 60 people.
A collaborative project between the University of the Arts and Drexel University, the camp—officially called the Summer Program for Creative Entrepreneurs —marked the end of its first session with the August 14 demo day. Funded in part by the national Knight Foundation, the camp provided stipends of $3,000 to the participating students and alumni, who were drawn exclusively from the University of the Arts and Drexel University.
“Drexel got involved with this program by way of invitation from the Corzo Center at the University of the Arts,” said Chuck Sacco, the entrepreneur-in-residence at Drexel’s Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship. “They asked us to get involved by hosting the camp, providing mentoring to the participants, and by providing some additional funding for the program.”
Throughout the six weeks, participants took a variety of classes in storytelling for business, finding valuable business partners, securing seed investment for new startups, and more.
As for the prizes themselves: One $5,000 prize went to Machele Nettles, a 2004 graduate of the University of the Arts and owner of design company Talk Design Studio, for a product she calls “blurp!” A dome-shaped object made of a thin, silicone-rubber shell, Nettles said blurp! not only functions as a chair, but can also be used by children as a toy. “Products should be more than utilitarian,” she said. “I want to design objects that solicit an emotional response.” Her plan is to devise a way to sell her silicone-rubber shell to hospitals for young patients to use.
Winner of the second, $5,000 prize was Megan Peaslee, a graduating senior from Drexel University student who made, from her own apartment, the Acute Reader, a device for propping up printed books and holding open their pages to be used by people with rheumatoid arthritis in their hands. When not in use, the Acute Reader can be folded up to look like a blanket someone might throw over the back of a couch.
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An additional award of $1,000, voted on by audience members, went to Coffeebot Studios, a two-year-old animation studio that has already had its animations featured on MTV and PHL17.
Read more about the program participants here.-30-
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