MICA UP / Start Venture 2022 competition finalists announced


MICA is pleased to announce the finalists for this year’s UP / Start Venture competition, which were chosen after the first round “Pop Up and Pitch” virtual event on November 19.

This year’s finalists include:

Blvck gate
Iman Carr ’22 (Design Leadership MA / MBA)

Blvck Door is an online platform that bridges the gap between creatives of color and employers who see the benefits of a fair and diverse workforce.


Herschel Ruben ’21 (BFA in Product Design)

The global population of people with the autism spectrum is estimated at 70 million, of which 80% are unemployed or severely underemployed. People on the spectrum are hypersensitive to light, taste, sound, smell and touch. To them, even the smallest stimuli can seem overwhelming. When their nervous system is overloaded, it can cause a fight-or-flight response that disrupts workflow. Applying pressure to certain points in the nervous system, such as the outside of the thighs and shoulders, can calm or prevent sensory overload. The Compressent office chair is for people who experience nervous system overstimulation and need a calming mechanism to be productive in their day-to-day life. Deep pressure touch, especially when it can be self-controlled with Compressent, is one way to alleviate the need to calm down by disconnecting. Finding a way to apply this in everyday life led to the design of the Compressent office chair, a product that can be used – without the stigma – in any work environment.


Emma Koramshahi ’22 (Design Leadership MA / MBA), Aleks Romano ’22 (Design Leadership MA / MBA) and Julia Breskin ’22 (Design Leadership MA / MBA)

How to take up space in a conversation?

Convo is a data visualization tool that uses AI and animation to bring fairness to the virtual meeting space. In your meeting, each participant is represented by a hotspot. As a participant speaks, their circle grows. Under each circle, a current timestamp records the cumulative duration of that participant’s speech. The volume of participants determines the growth rate of their respective circle. As a tool providing both real-time feedback and a visual summary for participation in the conversation, Convo has the potential to make your educational, business or personal meetings a space where all voices are heard. Once developed, Convo can be licensed for business-to-business and would be a great addition for businesses like Zoom, Skype, and WebEx to integrate with their APIs.

The Convo team has the spark and the motivation. We want UP / Start to be the catalyst to realize our dream of a self-reflective conversation in a virtual environment.

Basic immersive laboratories

Paolo Narciso ’22 (Data Analysis and MPS Visualization)

The metaverse is becoming a reality with over $ 3 trillion invested to build what many are calling the next generation of the Internet. The opportunity is expected to double over the next five years. Just as the web wasn’t all about websites and search engines, the metaverse wasn’t all about mixed reality. It can fundamentally change commerce, economies and human interactions. But, just like the web, builders and architects are generally drawn from privileged populations, leaving out underserved communities and voices / ideas by gender, race, age and ethnicity. Our mission is to provide the training, tools and opportunities for these underserved populations around the world to be entrepreneurs, builders and architects of the metaverse. The training will be free for participants. The company will generate income as a global innovation lab and through placement services.

Hit the block

Book Karnjanakit ’21 (MFA practice of illustration)

Dealing with art blocks is not easy. “Knock the Block” is here to help.

Most artists and creatives, regardless of their level of experience, have gone through periods of artistic blockage – the state of not being able to come up with ideas or feeling stuck. This often leads to disappointment or doubt, which simply creates more blockages. The causes of a blockage can range from mental and physical fatigue from constantly creating, to the reverse when you haven’t created anything for a while.

“Knock the Block” is a creative self-care invitation card game to help people overcome this universal artistic challenge. Place the game within easy reach and whenever you come across an art block, simply choose a card (or a few!) And follow the directions. Each card is illustrated in a fun way in order to make readers smile.

Each “Knock the Block” deck contains 60 cards divided into 3 different categories: topic prompts, technique prompts, and self-care prompts.


Jana Thompson ’21 (UX Design MPS), Mackenzie Legg, ’21 (UX Design MPS), Kelly Lynch ’21 (UX Design MPS), Justine Cantu ’21 (UX Design MPS) and Heather Waugh ’21 (UX Design MPS)

Mira is your virtual twin to help you reach your goals and take the breaks you need during your day. Each person can create their own unique avatar who spends the day with them and goes through the ups and downs of life.

You create your own personalized Mira avatar with a unique face, voice, and personality to help you set daily, ongoing, and long-term goals. Your Mira will contact you throughout the day to see how you are doing and encourage you to accomplish what you want, but also to help you understand yourself and meet where you are at.

With the Mira app, you will be able to track your goals, as well as watch your stress level and well-being over time.

Mira is believed to contribute to your well-being by being an outside voice to give you the reminders and encouragement you need.


Kristen Karlovich ’21 (BFA in Product Design)

Pharma-D is a home / take-out medical device tool library that provides broader and easier access to the care and monitoring of an individual’s health. Pharma-D does not replace emergency care, hospitals or average doctor’s offices, but rather enables people to make informative choices about their health care.

There are so many medical devices on the market that most people don’t know they have access to them. Everything from monitors that can detect cancer to different types of electronic stethoscopes and heart monitors that can detect heart attacks or emotional distress days in advance.

Pharma-D would allow people to access and understand their own health. Pharma-D would enable individuals to make informed decisions and give professionals a better idea of ​​the health and care they need. Pharma-D would help reduce the cost of unnecessary and very expensive testing, detrimental wait times for testing, and help professionals and medical facilities.


Monika Reddy Vootukuri ’21 (MFA Graphic Design)

Storypets are voice assistants that deliver bedtime stories to children with the parent or grandparent voice instead of a generic AI voice. The prototype is a design attempt for joy, responding to today’s landscape of voice computing and digital products. Storypets explores how families can use technology to share an inclusive, non-robotic experience with their children. The product connects cultures and generations while redefining the rules of user experience design. Storypets is particularly sensitive to home environments where various languages ​​are spoken and where standard diction or accents are not the norm.

The product works in conjunction with a mobile application. The parent saves a pre-written or personal story in the mobile app, this story will be stored in the physical product (i.e. pet) and kids can choose to hear it when they want it. wish. In addition, children can tell stories to the animal.

The UP / Start Venture and MICApreneurship program are generously supported by the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation. The winners will be announced at the final event on Tuesday, April 12, 2021. For more information, visit https://micapreneurship.weebly.com/.


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