College campuses around D.C. are hotbeds of innovation, with alumni and students turning their experiences into exciting startups. Ahead of 2016, catch up on some of the startups that made moves in 2015 and you should keep an eye on in the year ahead.
upace (American) – Rachel Koretsky built upace as tool for university campus gyms and the people who go to them. It provides an interactive management, monitoring and scheduling software system, letting students can know peak gym times and when the fitness center is less crowded. The pilot program ran in just a few schools but has proven a rousing success. Now, upace is set to expand into many more schools in 2016, with Koretsky keeping busy shuttling around to the different campuses as she makes healthy living for students easier.
SHELF Cosmetics (American) – Aviva Kamler is tackling the overwhelming confusion of figuring out cosmetics. She founded SHELF and built a mobile app that helps people track, review, share and even learn about the health impacts of different kinds of nail polish. Now officially launched, Kamler and her small team have recruited a network of brand ambassadors at college campuses around the country. In 2016, the plan is to grow that network further and expand the products on the app, which is currently focused just on nail polish, into other types of cosmetics.
M3D (UMd) – After a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $3.4 million from almost 12,000 people in 2014, M3D started shipping its Micro 3D-printer this year and adding a new, retail version as well. The Micro is a smaller, cheaper 3D-printer than the standard designs. M3D is a graduate of the UMd incubator program and is well-positioned to grow into the casual and educational 3D-printing markets, bringing the possibilities of 3D-printing to a far larger audience than ever before.
Happening (GW)– Created by GW student Max Friedman, Happening is an event finder app using Tinder-esque swiping and filtering system to help people find events to attend and the people that will be there. As the app gets to know a user, it will start sending event recommendations based on what nearby friends within your network are selecting and what you’ve looked at before.
VirtualU (Virginia Tech) – Originally a shopping app, VirtualU pivoted successfully to creating a 3D scanner to model, measure and track a user’s fitness program. The company closed a $625,000 seed round fund last year and has started to work with gyms and even Whole Foods to promote its tech.
The Rival (GW) – A new media publication for college students, The Rival is made up of a network of college students across the country. At the moment the site is bringing in between 5,000 and 10,000 visitors a day. It offers individualized sites for each campus it operates on, working as an alternative to the standard student newspaper. operates as a network made up of multiple, campus-specific, child publications. And the staff is comprised of current students at each campus, while administrative, business and editorial strategy is orchestrated between Washington and specific, senior directors on each campus.
Gradtap (JMU) – After Matt Parker spent four years playing basketball for James Madison University, he wanted to get into tech startups, but found it difficult. The nature of college athletics means that former athletes may not be qualified to go after them. To bridge that gap, Parker founded Gradtap, which offers a training program for former athletes and others who want to get the skills and connections that will make it possible to go after tech jobs.