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June 11, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

Startup Studio announces promising inaugural summer cohort

The student founders were selected for their strong soft skills, innovative business ideas, and the ability to produce an minimum viable product within the 10-week timeframe.

The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) at the University of TennesseeKnoxville (UTK) has been helping student founders since 2009. The organization has awarded more than $1 million in pre-seed funding to student start-ups and spun out dozens of first-time founders from the university system. Now, they’re launching a summer program to help student founders bring their business concepts to life.

Startup Studio is a new 10-week summer program designed to help launch ideas into businesses through an intensive curriculum, mentoring, and interdisciplinary collaboration. The program is exclusively for current UTK students and university alumni who have graduated within 12 months of applying to the program. For the inaugural cohort, 10 ideas and 11 founders were selected.

Haseeb (HQ) Qureshi joined the Haslam College of Business as an adjunct professor for entrepreneurship in 2019, he is the driving force, and visionary behind the hands-on accelerator program. We interviewed Qureshi in May to learn more about the inaugural program (read article here).

The list of teams in the inaugural cohort were announced on Tuesday:

  1. Alexa Schnitkka is a recent sports management master’s graduate from Muskego, Wisconsin. She started Athlete Meditations to improve team performance and athletic mental health through sports meditation coaching services and resources.
  2. Ashtin Hara is a rising senior from Chicago pursuing a major in finance. Her business is Hey Mom!, a personal safety app that leverages user location and messages with family and friends to help users feel safer anywhere they go.
  3. Blake Hopkins, a rising senior from Fayetteville, pursuing a major in supply chain management with a minor in entrepreneurship, started Partnerly. His business will streamline paid partnerships between content creators and small businesses looking for better ROI from their social media engagement.
  4. Connor Langford, a Knoxville native, is a rising senior pursuing a major in marketing with a collateral in entrepreneurship. His business, BoxBoost Strategies, is a marketing agency providing customer acquisition and retention services to CrossFit gyms anywhere.
  5. Ian Parten, a recent accounting major graduate from Chattanooga, founded Algorhythm. His business will bring predictive analytics to touring musicians to maximize fan engagement and profitability.
  6. Jackson Zimmer is a rising senior from Baltimore, Maryland, pursuing a major in finance with a collateral in entrepreneurship. His business, CoinQuest, will provide focused financial literacy to older teens and young adults and help them better budget, save and invest at their current stage in life.
  7. Jess Taylor, a recent graphic design major from Springfield, founded Soundtrack, a company that aims to reduce anxiety and increase mindfulness by recording and logging encountered sounds, allowing users to reflect on their experience and take action toward better well-being. Soundtrack helps users create a deeper connection with their surroundings and collect and explore life’s sounds.
  8. Madison Murray, a recent marketing major and entrepreneurship collateral graduate from Murfreesboro, and Claudia Dipasupil, a recent marketing major and entrepreneurship minor graduate from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, teamed up to create CM Creations. Their business is taking the guesswork out of imagining, planning, and envisioning events with their augmented reality service.
  9. Nick DiMeglio is a Full-Time MBA candidate from Somerset, New Jersey. He started 732 Sports, a sports agency focusing on reducing post-retirement economic and life instability for collegiate and professional athletes.
  10. Vance Sohn is a Physicians Executive MBA candidate from Great Falls, Virginia. He started Room9, an app for cancer patients to monitor their remission, send reminders for post-treatment screenings, and provide in-app support for their friends and families. will be following the inaugural program, including the kick-off for the Startup Studio on June 24.

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