Mercer Innovation Center announces 2017-2018 Fellows


Image: Jayla Moody

President Underwood and Innovation Center Deputy Director Stephanie Howard pose with this year’s fellows and founders of the companies-in-residence.

Jayla Moody, Arts & Entertainment Editor

There are some new entrepreneurs in town, and they’re working on everything from wallet tracking cards to a substitute for coffee.

Stephanie Howard, deputy director of The Mercer Innovation Center, announced their second class of fellows on August 16. There are nine new businesses that will receive funding and support from the MIC, according to a release.

There are four fellows who will receive up to $20,000 in startup funds, full access to Mercer University facilities, coaching from experienced business professionals, office space in the incubator for a full year, paid interns from the university, an entrepreneurial community and opportunities to pitch to investors throughout Georgia.

The four companies that received a fellowship are Hygeia, MedaSol, Ultimental and 43 Tech.

“The hobbies that students had in their dorm rooms and the ideas that they had in class can be sustainable businesses,” Howard said. “You don’t have to wait 15-20 years into your career to work for yourself.”

Alex Razin, cofounder of Ultimental, did a lot of the development for the product. He compared their product to a protein powder for your brain.

“It works to reduce fatigue and it really just allows you to have the ability to work harder and longer without the crash associated with caffeine,” he said. “In a way it’s like a coffee.”

Howard also announced five companies-in-residence that will be based out of the Innovation Center and provided additional resources for the next school year.

These companies include a data analytics software developer IUVO, founded by Stephen Hatez; marketing services agency AlyMedia, founded by student Faiz Aly; natural hygiene products company The Bee’s Knees, founded by student Julia Nazerian; crowdsourced student notes platform Study Share, founded by Ricky Vega; and makeup brand Amaka, founded by Mercer graduate Ijeoma Mbaezue.

Ricky Vega is dedicating his year at the MIC to helping Mercer students in particular.

Vega wanted Study Share to facilitate a simpler way to study for students in college.

“You’ll be able to log in, put in your courses and everyone can upload notes for that specific course,” he said.

The MIC will also be bringing the national program CO.STARTERS to Middle Georgia. It’s a nine-week, cohort based program that aims to equip entrepreneurs with the insights, relationships and tools they need to turn their ideas to action, according to Howard.

The program costs $199 and is open to community members. The program will begin in September. For more information, contact Howard at [email protected].

President Underwood spoke at the press conference and reminded students and staff members that the MIC is still only a year old. He expressed his excitement about the center’s growth.

“It’s all about the process of building a culture of entrepreneurship here on campus with students and faculty members,” Underwood said.