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New class of Mercer Innovation Center fellows announced

The Mercer Innovation Center hosts the Next Big Ideas Competition for Mercer students. Photo by Peter Garcia.
The Mercer Innovation Center hosts the Next Big Ideas Competition for Mercer students. Photo by Peter Garcia.

Three new startups, Z Beans Coffee, Send Mammogram and Sound Collide, were named fellows at the Mercer Innovation Center (MIC) Aug. 21. Four more have been selected as companies-in-residence, granting them office space and other resources within the MIC.

MIC Fellows are granted up to $20,000 cash for startup funds, full access to Mercer University facilities, coaching from experienced business professionals and faculty, office space in the center for a full year, paid interns from Mercer University, convenient parking and opportunities to pitch to investors across Georgia.

“The Innovation Center brings a lot to the table, but the biggest thing is that’s all dependent upon you as an individual. You have to drive. If you just continue to work they will find you,” Z Beans Coffee founder and Mercer alum Shane Buerster said.

Z Beans Coffee is a socially-motivated startup that imports Ecuadorian coffee.

The company’s mission is to create sustainable solutions for impoverished Ecuadorian coffee farmers through fair trade importation methods, according to the Z Beans website.

Send Mammogram is a website that allows users to request prior mammograms for comparison anytime, anywhere. Founded by Tillata Gibson, an alumna of Full Sail and Devry Universities, the mission of the company is to become the industry leader for women requesting prior mammograms.

Soundcollide is an online recording studio that allows users to discover new artists and record and collaborate live remotely. Founded by Robert Hatcher, the platform helps collaborators save time and money while developing an album, according to Mercer News.

The companies-in-residence are Lux Lenois, founded by Mercer business professor Ania Rynarzewska; Bear Food Co., founded by Mercer junior Mac Brydon; Traveler Camper, founded by Mercer graduate David Doleman; and Kingfisher Leatherworks, founded by Mercer sophomore Luke Kolbie.

The MIC also hosts the Next Big Idea Competition, an annual competition for Mercer students to pitch a business to investors and win up to $6,000 cash for the first-place prize.

“The Next Big Idea event is a great way to get a business off the ground,” Buerster said. “It’s a framework in place to get you to start thinking about the right concepts.”

While the Next Big Idea Competition is only open to Mercer students, the MIC Fellowship is open to all entrepreneurs, 18 and older.

Applications for the fellows program are reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the year and up to five fellows are selected. The deadline to apply will be in the spring semester and the application can be found on the MIC website.



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