Startup Shell hosts Fall Expo for students’ new business developments

Startup Shell hosted its fall expo Friday for 17 different companies, a variety of startups made by students promoting their businesses for the first time.

Startup Shell, which was founded in 2012, is directed by and for students with more than 200 members and 60 business ventures. Startup Shell hosts a variety of dinners, retreats, hackathons and an expo every semester.

Among the new businesses was POSH, a company that matches customers for beauty appointments to different salons. Co-founder William Kwao helped get the program running last March through Startup Shell.

“What we’re trying to do is build the easiest way to find a beauty professional,” he said. “You go on our website, put in your information, click the button and we send you to the best professional in your area.”

Next Kwao is working on perfecting the company’s algorithm to matching customers to the style they want while developing a website and app, he said. At the expo, his goal was to get the company’s name out there, he said.

“Right now we’re a team and tonight we’re just creating awareness,” he said. “We bet it on the model that people don’t want to think a lot and we want to scale that to other services.”

Two students exhibited their more recently founded business, Tommy WARES, a t-shirt company that sells graphic design t-shirts created by local artists.

“We’re a very focused on art and we want to use t-shirts as a canvas for art,” said chief operations officer Tommy Piantone. “We want to use that to give back to artists and give back to the community.”

Piantone created the company with his friend, chief creative officer Samuel Cunningham. The pair began in September by hosting events like brunches and musical shows to get artists involved and “bring people together,” Cunningham said.

“We want artist visibility to be the goal,” he said. “We want artists that we work with to have their names on everything and have the people wearing the clothes know who did that. It’s so hard to make it as an artist.”

Piantone got the idea from his friends who used to make fun of his clothes, he said. Now, Piantone and Cunningham are hoping to take their company further into the fashion business, Piantone said.

“I’ve been wearing plain white crew neck t-shirts for years,” he said. “And my friends and family would be like ‘Dude, I don’t know if you have one shirt or twenty of the same.’ So I decided to make my own shirts.”

Through Startup Shell, Cunningham was focused on making connections in the business community, he said. At the expo, their goal was to meet people interested in their work.

“Startup Shell is the place to do that, and get information,” Cunningham said. “It’s good for visibility, getting our social media and business cards out there.”

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