Mercer Innovation Center Announces Third Class of Fellows, Companies-in-Residence

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Mercer Innovation Center

MACON – Mercer Innovation Center (MIC) today announced its third class of fellows – three new businesses that will launch with funding and support from the MIC – in addition to four companies-in-residence that will be provided office space and additional resources by the Center.

These seven promising new and developing companies will maintain operations in Macon, with two relocating from Atlanta.

The annual Mercer Innovation Fellowships are open to entrepreneurs, 18 and older, from across the world, in addition to current Mercer students. Fellows receive a prize package that may include up to $20,000 in funding, parking on Mercer’s campus, office space and MIC membership for a year, paid student interns, access to Mercer facilities, access to local investors, and coaching and mentoring by the Center’s advisory board.

This year’s three fellows – Z Beans Coffee, Send Mammogram and Soundcollide – bring the total number of fellowship recipients to nine over the first three years of the program. Past fellows include KUDU Safari Braai, HeadNoise, Hygeia, MedaSol, Ultimental and 43 Tech.

“This year’s pool of fellowship applicants was the most competitive to date, and we are excited to support this group of incoming startups,” said Stephanie Howard, deputy director of the Mercer Innovation Center. “One of the goals of the Mercer Innovation Center is to help entrepreneurs launch sustainable businesses, which ultimately impacts the Macon-Bibb County economy.”

Z Beans Coffee, founded by Mercer alumnus Shane Buerster, is a micro-lot importer of Ecuadorian coffee. The company’s mission is to create sustainable solutions for impoverished Ecuadorian coffee farmers through fair trade importation methods by creating an unmatched and unprecedented coffee experience.

Send Mammogram, founded by Tillata Gibson, aspires to empower women with a mobile and website solution to request prior mammograms for comparison, before breast cancer screening, anytime and anywhere. The company’s vision is to become the leading online service for women to request prior mammograms and the leading enterprise mammography information system with blockchain verification.

Soundcollide, founded by Robert Hatcher, is an online recording studio that allows users to discover new artists, record and collaborate live remotely from multiple locations. The platform helps collaborators save time and expenses while developing an album and utilizes blockchain technology for music authentication.

Four additional fellowship applicants were selected as companies-in-residence and will receive support from the MIC, such as office space and interns. They include luxury natural hygiene company Lux Lenois, founded by Mercer business professor Dr. Ania Rynarzewska; gourmet Virginia peanut company Bear Food Co., founded by Mercer junior Mac Brydon; e-commerce brand for outdoor enthusiasts Traveler Camper, founded by recent Mercer graduate David Doleman; and handcrafted leather goods company Kingfisher Leatherworks, founded by Mercer freshman Luke Kolbie.

All MIC companies will participate in the CO.STARTERS program, which aims to equip aspiring entrepreneurs with the insights, relationships and tools they need to turn ideas into action and turn a passion into a sustainable and thriving endeavor.

CO.STARTERS, which costs $199 to attend, is open to community members and will begin in September. For more information, contact Howard at mic@mercer.edu.

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Kyle Sears