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Mace & Crown | April 30, 2017

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Strome Entrepreneurial Center Hosts ODU Company Expo

Ross Reelachart | Technology Editor

The Strome Entrepreneurial Center recently held its “ODU Company Expo,” an event where more than 35 businesses started by students and alumni were showcased alongside a few community businesses. Established in 2013 thanks to a $10 million gift from the Strome Family Foundation, the center empowers young entrepreneurs to live their dreams and change the world, offering educational resources and advice from experienced professionals. Any student can approach the center looking for aid and direction. All they need is an idea and the drive to see it become reality. The following is just a sampling of the many student startups the SEC has fostered.

Mobile app development is a hot tech trend right now, and the team behind Gymmie hopes to apply Tinder-style matching in helping people make the most of their workout. From an idea hatched by founders Max Hall and Jack Chanon, Gymmie is a way for people to enhance their workout routines by matching them with other people who seek similar workouts or schedules. Right now, Gymmie is only available on iOS, but developers Michael Freeman, Avinash Gosavi and Blake Rodgers are working to put Gymmie on Android soon. In the future, the team hopes to implement integration with gyms other than the SRC and branch out into the Hampton Roads area.

A prime example of ambition, Blake Rogers is also one-half of the team at another student startup, kiNNectUS. Together with Akosua Acheamponmaa, kiNNectUS is a mobile and web developer that prides itself on being a local business. The app helps clients build their ideas beyond “getting the job done.” The startup began after the two met at a Dominion Enterprises “hackathon,” which Acheamponmaa won, and has already served many clients including Gymmie and Pogo, another student company.

Student startups aren’t all mobile apps. Maurice Brooks and Johnnie Jackson are aiming to take on the world of fashion and trends with their company SHWIM. Standing for “Showing How We Integrate Minds,” SHWIM seeks to “promote and develop cultural integration and diversity within the community through fashion.” After helping with the opening of a new bar in Downtown Norfolk, SHWIM is setting its sights on expanding its storefront to Virginia Beach and then head to the West Coast. SHWIM can be found on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

Student startups don’t always consist of whole teams, but instead, are often comprised of one determined student looking to turn their passion into a business. Deep Space Divine Finds is a startup run by Glenn Bazemore, an aerospace engineering sophomore with a love for space and building things with his own hands. He came to the Strome Center last year with the idea of a foldable longboard and has since set up his own little company where he makes 3D designs of starships and cool bike chains called “fidget spinners.”

Also present at the Expo were a few returning players in the ODU entrepreneurial world. Janay Brown and her gourmet bacon retailer Full Belly Delights, winner of the inaugural Lion’s Lair Competition last year, was present to show-off their bacon-flavored treats.

Another company called 3DXtremes, launched by Aron Blade Taylor, was last covered by the Mace in 2015. The company was present to show how much a student startup can grow with time and effort. Not only had they grown from a mere three 3D printers on hand to a grand 11, but they had also recently been hired by the U.S. Army and S.B. Ballard Construction Company. For the Army, they were tasked with training people at Fort Lee on how to build and use 3D printers. For S.B. Ballard, their 3D print models helped the company score a multi-million dollar contract.

The Strome Entrepreneurial Center is dedicated to helping students start their own businesses and build their own futures. The SEC has presentations and meets every Tuesday during activity hour where you can get advice on becoming a success.