ATLANTA—Georgia State University’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Institute (ENI) has selected a diverse group of founders and innovative companies for the fourth cohort of its Main Street Entrepreneurs Seed Fund. This innovative program enhances Georgia State's strategic focus to create an ecosystem that provides opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators to develop new ideas and scale their own businesses. Entrepreneurship has become an integral driver of economic growth and societal progress in today's rapidly evolving world. However, many aspiring entrepreneurs face numerous challenges and barriers on their path to success. Recognizing this need, the Main Street Entrepreneurs Seed Fund (MSESF) was created to provide a comprehensive support system tailored to meet the unique needs of emerging entrepreneurs.
With an emphasis on fostering inclusive entrepreneurship, the MSESF is a six-month program created to support Georgia State students, recent alumni and community entrepreneurs with seed funding and mentorship to start and grow new ventures. The Marcus Foundation, Bank of America, Georgia Power and Ahmet Bozer (MBA ‘83), a retired executive vice president at Coca-Cola, have supported the program since its inception in 2019.
Furthermore, the Main Street program facilitates connections with potential investors, industry partners and successful entrepreneurs who can offer invaluable advice and support. These opportunities will enable cohort members to build relationships, secure funding and access the resources needed to take their businesses to new heights.
“The Georgia State entrepreneur community sees unique and abundant opportunities to impact our society and transform lives,” said Jennifer Sherer, director of the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Institute and Executive Officer for Entrepreneurship at Georgia State. “Companies in this cohort are addressing everything from empowering persons with disabilities to make informed decisions to tackling severe dry eye disease.”
The selection process included two rounds. In the first round, applications were reviewed by Georgia State faculty and staff. More than 40 companies advanced to the second round where they pitched their businesses to a panel of reviewers consisting of investors, serial entrepreneurs and community partners from across Atlanta.
“We continue to see founders coming through the Main Street program with innovative ideas and concepts from a variety of categories of products and services. These new ideas and ventures made it very challenging to narrow the pool to just 12 companies,” says Musaddeq Khan (MK), the lead entrepreneur-in-residence who will mentor and coach the Main Street entrepreneurs. “This year, we have also brought together more than 30 mentors and coaches from multiple disciplines and industries to guide the founders of this cohort as they execute on their business ideas and plans.”
The companies and entrepreneurs participating in Cohort 4 include:
- Atlanta's Turnkey Locators – Niketa Misco, Social Entrepreneurship, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies
- Culturally Relevant Science, Inc. – Meagan Naraine, Science Education, College of Education & Human Development and Tamir Mickens, Science Education, College of Education & Human Development
- Democratic Systems Inc. – Langston Thomas, Political Science, College of Arts & Sciences
- DuffleBox – Maiya Newton, Computer Information Systems, Robinson College of Business
- Java Cats, LLC – Zoe Hughes-Nelson, Pre-Entrepreneurship, Robinson College of Business and Hadyn Hilton, Film, College of the Arts
- Kythe Inc. – Joe Griswell, J.D. & M.S. in Data Science and Analytics, College of Law & Robinson College of Business, Rebecca Rhym, Law, College of Law, and Kierra Powell, Law, College of Law
- Let Me Do It – Angad Sahgal, Inclusive Digital Expression and Literacy (IDEAL) program, Center for Leadership Development, School of Public Health, and Amit Sahgal, community member
- Mission2Motivate – Nigel Stewart, Sport Administration, College of Education & Human Development
- SkinCentric – Paige Malcolm, Pre-Computer Science, College of Arts & Sciences and Theodora Oatmeyer, community member
- Utility Objects – Aleisha DuChateau, Photography, College of the Arts
- Visionary Muzik Academy – Justin Bartley, Creative & Innovative Education, College of Education & Human Development
- Yanie Eyewear – Tatyana Langford, Entrepreneurship, Robinson College of Business, Te’Andrea Langford, Marketing, Robinson College of Business
These Georgia State entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses to the Atlanta community at the Main Street Demo Day in October 2023.
The MSESF business accelerator program has received global recognition and is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Specialty Award for Most Innovative Program from the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA), the Excellence in Student Engagement in Entrepreneurship Award from the annual Deshpande Symposium for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education and the Award for Excellence in Specialty Entrepreneurship Education from the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC).