The inaugural list of Charlotte Inno’s Under 25 innovators includes four with ties to UNC Charlotte. Three students and an alumnus were nominated by Ventureprise, UNC Charlotte’s innovation and entrepreneurship center, for their work to solve problems they’ve identified in their lives and through their research.
“These Inno Under 25 pieces, which we do in all 14 of American Inno’s markets, aim to highlight the fact that a healthy ecosystem has innovators of all ages driving change for the better; that there are entrepreneurs not waiting to hit a certain milestone to influence their world,” said Courtney Gabrielson, Charlotte Inno’s new market editor. “It’s always such a heartening exercise to write Under 25 stories, as I have in other markets, but there’s something even more special about discovering just how many incredible movers and shakers are in my—our—backyard here in Charlotte.”
Fidel Henriquez, a College of Computing and Informatics sophomore focusing on data science, founded Heben after winning the Business category of the Student Pitch Competition at 2019’s Charlotte Venture Challenge. After completing the Ventureprise Launch program this summer, Henriquez joined the 49er Foundry, UNC Charlotte’s student business incubator, and continues work on a social media fitness app while looking to launch a beta test later this fall. Sign up for his newsletter and to test his new app.
Treven Stoddard ’19, a recent UNC Charlotte graduate, is no stranger to garnering accolades for his startup Genubot. Stoddard participated in the Ventureprise Launch spring 2018 cohort, where he developed the idea of a problem-solving application for calculus and algebra students, focusing on not only providing the answer but also utilizing machine learning to determine specific concepts the student needs to focus on to learn the subject matter. Continuing to work on the app as a 49er Foundry member, he won the Student Pitch Competition at 2018 Charlotte Venture Challenge. Stoddard also won the Student Innovator Award at the Blue Diamond Awards.
Next on the list is Margaret Kocherga, a Ph.D. candidate in Nanoscale Science in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, who plans to tackle the startup world full time and launch Light and Charge Solutions. She already has participated in Ventureprise Launch’s regional NSF I-Corps program and will work this winter for the National I-Corps program, interviewing more than 100 potential customers in six weeks. During this time, she will finalize partnerships and establish a lab.
“Creative freedom” is the reason the fourth and final UNC Charlotte student decided to take an entrepreneurial path and join 49er Foundry. Tristin Fields, who took second place in the Business category in the Student Pitch at 2019’s Charlotte Venture Challenge with Loose Lace, a social media platform centralizing sneaker culture that is designed specifically for sneaker enthusiasts. Fields, a senior history major in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, went through the Ventureprise Launch customer discovery program this summer and is working this semester to finalize his proof of concept and will test his app this winter.
“All four of the young innovators have taken actionable steps to build their innovations and gather valuable feedback along the way. Having ideas and talking about problems is one thing but taking action is what sets these four students apart from all the others,” said Devin Collins, Ventureprise’s interim executive director.
Read more about Ventureprise programming, IDEA Pitch, 49er Foundry and upcoming events.