STEM Whisperers and College Thrifts win Early Risers Academy general cohort pitch

Thursday night, Temitayo (T.) Adeola Osinubi, founder of STEM Whisperers, and Patricia Garcia, founder of College Thrifts, won their Early Risers Academy cohort’s virtual pitch night, each taking home $1K.

STEM Whisperers is a marketing technology (martech)-focused college & career readiness STEM program specifically designed to end the School-to-Prison Pipeline by providing a culturally-relevant, evidenced-based curriculum that meets troubled students where they are and exposes them to MarTech career paths to sprout scholars from statistics to significance.

Founder T.’s personal journey included being labeled early on as a “bad kid.” Though he went on to earn his degree and manage digital marketing at companies like P&G, many of his peers did not, he said. He hopes STEM Whisperers will help change that by equipping students like he was with skills to jump into an in-demand industry.

“There are a lot of entry points to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, but Early Risers Academy needs to be put front & center as the first stop,” T. said. “They’ve been really good at bringing on subject matter experts who actually know what they’re doing, what they’re talking about. This isn’t stuff you can google.”

College Thrifts is a resale platform that seeks to create an inclusive college experience for students by providing an affordable and sustainable way for students to sport their school.

Patricia’s entrepreneurial journey was also driven by personal experience. A rising junior at Florida International University, she wanted to sport her school’s gear, but found the high prices at the campus bookstore excluded lower-income students like herself. With College Thrifts, students and alumni can purchase and sell their gently-used college gear.

Patricia found the Early Risers Academy application via a LinkedIn post. She was able to jump into the spring general cohort because the program went fully virtual, kicking off at the beginning of April as COVId19 shutdowns spread across the country.

“At first I was really concerned about jumping in, but the support I’ve felt, even hundreds of miles away, is amazing,” she said. “When I started, I had an idea and a rough version of a pitch deck. Seeing the progress in 10 weeks — being in this program has been really helpful.”

Early Risers Academy is a free, 10-week, pre-accelerator program designed to take participants from business idea to business launch. It is run by a team from Launch Dayton partner Wright State Applied Research Corporation.

Participants complete Kauffman FastTrac coursework from the nationally-renowned Kauffman Foundation, receive pitch coaching and hands-on mentoring, weekly discussions with successful entrepreneurs and experts, & access to Dayton’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

These workshops can also be valuable for founders early in their small business journey, or who jumped right into their business without formally developing the plans behind it and are now discovering they need some of that paperwork in place to grow.

The spring 2020 general cohort was the largest yet, with 16 participants starting, and 14 completing, the program. Typically there is only one $1K prize available per cohort. the second $1K prize for this cohort was generously provided by IUE-CWA.

Other spring general cohort graduates included:

• Whitney Brewer & Whitney Brewer Photography, an unparalleled photography and coaching service specializing in empowering self-love, confidence and authenticity in growth-oriented individuals.

• Sarah Seagraves & 67b Bookkeeping, working to empower creative entrepreneurs to make smart business decisions by bringing clarity & understanding to their finances. Let 67b handle the books so you can handle your business.

• Tanner Elrod & Cardigan Radio, a Dayton-based podcast-production platform that is focused on making the process of creating fictional audio dramas accessible for independent artists. We strive to bring together writers, actors, directors, and producers to create stories that are both entertaining and convey an impactful message.

• Jalal Akl & UniMart, a student marketplace on which students of same university can sell/buy belongings from each other or even rent. Also they can shop online with the opportunity of receiving their purchase before whole payment.

• Anissa Lumpkin & BOSH Kids (Body•Organic•Science•Hair), unleashing creativity! Our all-natural DIY, high quality and reusable bath and body kits are focused on creating fun at-home STEM experiences for girls ages 8-14. It’s not enough to make the packaging pink and call it a girls ‘toy,” at BOSH Kids, we focus on using girls’ natural play patterns to CREATE SPARKS of JOY in learning (with a dash of pink and glitter).

• Te’jal Cartwright & What’s The Biz, a multi-faceted company that focuses on increasing black businesses’ customer bases by highlighting the stories of black business owners through a quirky web series and an intentional digital experience.

• Roe Wallace & Future Dreamers, a youth entrepreneurial program that offers hands on experience. The participants will enter with an idea, write it down , make a plan and leave with a legacy.

• Caressa Brown & Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator (DE-FI) LLC, a volunteer-based community outreach initiative that helps launch careers in fashion.

• Alea Carter & Be Whole! Life Coaching, offering online private and group coaching sessions, courses, dream interpretation, and books to women who seek personal development, empowerment, and life fulfillment. Our “whole person” approach provides clarity, encouragement, and accountability for our customers to live happy, healthy, and whole; thus, becoming the best version of themselves.

• James Revels & Katakage Brands, although the products shift like shadows, the experience is as timeless as light.

• Catrina Conley-Brookover & CB Cakes & More, sweets specialist, creating desserts such as cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and so much more, providing specialty dessert options for all your special occasions. We use quality ingredients to satisfy your sweet tooth, with prices to satisfy your wallet.

• Crystal Averette & Beyond the Chair, a mobile salon that brings comfort and confidence to your door step. This salon on wheels will bring you privacy, safety, convenience and comfort.

“Early Risers Academy is designed for aspiring founders in any industry,” Project Manager KeAnna Daniels said. “We’re particularly excited to work with more women and minority founders.”

Learn more & apply for an upcoming Early Risers Academy cohort here.

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Early Risers Academy Pitch Night