Cohort teams Fiesta and Oratio present their pitches at the Spring 2024 Spark Showcase.

For the first time since its renaming, The Johns Hopkins University’s Pava Marie LaPere Center for Entrepreneurship, formerly Fast Forward U, hosted its Spark Venture Showcase.

The Pava Center’s student-entrepreneurship hub and programming encourages, coaches and enables innovators to move their ideas forward and out into the world. The Pava Center team works with all levels of students, from undergrad to postdoc, to support their entrepreneurial spirit and help them turn their ideas into viable businesses. Spark is designed for student innovators in the early stage of their work. Entrepreneurs pitch their venture ideas online at the Showcase, the culmination of the 12-week intensive accelerator, held biannually.

Sephora Saint-Armand, student program manager, reports that “the Spark accelerator continues to increase in quality and size, semester after semester. We received over 70 applicants, our most competitive cycle to date. Forty student founders shared their ideas in front of a panel of experienced industry specialists. There was no shortage of variety — from MedTech to immersive virtual reality, we had it all! It’s wonderful to witness the progress they’ve made over two short months at the Pava Center. We will continue to extend support as they validate their product-market fit.”

On April 29, over 100 attendees tuned in to hear these early-stage student startup teams across disciplines share their ideas with a panel of 10 accomplished alumni and experienced judges from our ecosystem and industry: Serene Al-Momen, Ansh Bhammar, Justin Brodie-Kommit, Mike Brooks, Jack Fischer, Elyse Heob, Yash Jain, Fehmida Kapadia, Ph.D., Todd Murphy and Zygmunt Porada.

Leading up to the showcase, the teams participate in weekly skill-building workshops, receive mentorship from peer advisers and work through a curriculum designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and how to create a viable, incorporation-ready venture, able to leverage early-stage resources. Each participating student venture team receives a $500 nondilutive grant for completing the program.

Additional prizes decided at the Showcase include $500 for each Audience Choice Prize winner, and $2,000 for each Judges’ Prize winner.

Audience Choice

  • KaraOrchee (Peabody Institute)
  • Therapal (Carey Business School/Bloomberg School of Public Health)

Judge’s Prize

  • Droply, Judge’s Prize (School of Medicine)
  • Oratio, Judge’s Prize (Whiting School of Engineering)

Audience Choice

  • Acai (School of Medicine)
  • EzEMS (Whiting School of Engineering)

Judge’s Prize

  • Fiesta (Krieger School of Arts and Sciences)
  • RectaNav (Whiting School of Engineering)

The full list of early-stage startups, descriptions, and pitches are below. Applications for the next semester will be available in August. To connect with any of these teams, please contact the Pava Center.

Academic Blueprint – Organizational tool that helps neurodivergent and/or first-generation graduate students combat imposter syndrome through time management skills and community.

Acai – Enabling educational institutions to not only manage the overwhelming application volumes more effectively but also uphold the fairness and integrity of their admission processes.

Arcana Realm: An AR platform for individuals/companies to upload and merchandise creative 3D digital assets in urban landscapes.

ARtEYE – The Augmented Reality Text and Eye-Enhancer (ARtEYE) is disrupting the prescription eyewear market in the U.S. and addressing myopia.

Assisti – A best-in-class money management platform, empowering users with better control of their budget and increasing earning power.

Cerebranetics – Integrates advanced neuroimaging, precise blood-based biomarkers, and comprehensive psychosocial assessments into a user-friendly platform, utilizing AI and machine learning to offer personalized diagnostics and treatment plans.

Community Reads – Teaching children K–2 about diversity through literature.

Droply – An assistive device that makes eye drop application easier for users.

Endoguard – Prototyping a prophylactic treatment for Type II, Endoleaks that can be placed during the index procedure more cheaply, quickly, easily and, above all, safely, to treat the aneurysm sac.

EngineerMyCareer – An online career coaching business for new professionals and industry transitioners between the ages of 22 and 45, helping them cultivate the skills necessary to compete in the virtual workspace.

ezEMSReducing medication errors for EMS providers.

Fiesta – Fiesta is a fast, reliable and cost-efficient solution for organizing partygoers.

Flogenius Planner – A planner for people struggling with executive dysfunction.

Gap Bond – Empowering Gen-Z to explore career prospects through transformative gap-year experiences.

Gastronomy – A platform that ranks specific foods, rather than whole restaurants, to highlight best local dishes and optimize the “foodie” experience for newcomers in the area.

HerWai – A telehealth community-based platform generating personalized care plans to meet the unique health needs of minority women.

HumorHealer – A custom therapy AI bot designed to support the mental health of university students, military personnel and more through the power of humor.

IsleLink – A comprehensive platform for college students, emphasizing information sharing, easy socializing and mutual assistance.

JobTrump – Dual-sided marketplace directly connecting skilled domestic workers to customers, matching them to the most qualified person to do the job.

Kalea Studio – An innovative, fashion-forward clothing manufacturer and brand.

KaraOrchee – Building a new way for classical musicians to compose musical accompaniments.

Mobiliary – Eliminating the need for repeat procedures to treat biliary strictures.

Nanopolytech Solutions – A reusable, cost-efficient and comfortable N95 face mask that integrates zinc oxide nanoparticles into nanofibers to surpass the filtration efficiency of N95 respirators.

OfSpectrum – Protecting user’s voices from AI-enabled voice manipulation.

Oratio – Bridging the communication gap between deaf and hearing individuals by leveraging a digital, AI-enabled platform.

PharmaAICare – Leveraging predictive AI for lymph drug development.

PreSlice – Enabling surgeons to precisely extract skin lesions at a depth of 2 mm while maintaining the affordability and convenience of traditional shave biopsies.

Quantable – A quantitative trading interview preparation platform, training users from a baseline high school mathematical background and preparing them to solve problems and succeed in trading interviews.

RectaNav – Addressing the need for patients with Neurogenic Bowel Disorder by providing a tolerable and timely method that considers patient mobility and sensation challenges.

RelationSync – Blending personal and professional networking into one intuitive interface.

Ryo – Facilitating remittance money transfers from U.S.-based consumers to their home country (starting with Zimbabwe).

Scheduling Wizard – Automating the scheduling process for K–12 students.

SerendipityAI – Helping SMEs refine and revise processes more efficiently, at scale.

Serenymind – A mental health platform designed to combat workplace stress with personalized wellness journeys.

ShoulderWings – An assistive device supporting shoulder rehabilitation for outpatient care.

SinuStim – A neurostimulation device that regulates nasal nerves for patients suffering from chronic rhinosinusitis.

Stock NewsGPT – Redefining the way investors interact with the stock market, making it more efficient, timely and insightful.

TheraPal – A digital health platform revolutionizing at home physical therapy.

Velocigraft – Developing a low-cost, reusable incision template that facilitates rapid, accurate skin meshing, minimizing mechanical stress on the skin while in use.

WatchDoc/Life Link– Improving users’ emergency room wait times and overall experience through a comprehensive telehealth solution.

WealthWise – Enhancing personal financial literacy among adolescents ages 17–21.