A company pairing tattoo-seeking customers with customized designs and professional artists to match their style won the $5,000 top prize at UGA’s Idea Accelerator Demo Day pitch competition at Studio 225 on Nov. 11.
Eye Drool Designs, founded by College of Engineering student Kendra Garcia and Franklin College of Arts and Sciences student Darien Smith, is like a “Tattoo Tinder,” said Garcia. She discovered through research that six out of 10 people don’t know exactly what kind of tattoo they want when they go to the parlor, and her app helps customers make better-informed decisions and allows tattoo artists to spend less time on consultations and more time on tattooing.
“Designers who hold free consultations have to create various designs, which means they are losing money,” Garcia said. “Imagine if someone came in and said ‘I want this design’ and they can get that tattoo, which lets artists make more revenue.”
The judges saw great promise in Eye Drool’s startup idea.
“The idea is awesome, and there is huge potential in it,” said Kaitlin Lutz, winner of last fall’s Idea Accelerator and founder of NewCrew, which helps electrical contractors fill empty positions and grow their business. “There is the possibility of copyright and legal issues, but there are people in the Entrepreneurship Program who can help you. This is going to be a great business.”
Garcia is a mechanical engineering major and took part in The Launch Pad, a living learning community at Creswell Hall for students interested in entrepreneurship. The idea for the business grew from her interest in design and drawing her own temporary tattoos.
“It started with my parents not letting me get tattoos, so I drew on myself with a Sharpie and my mom said, ‘You know what, Sharpies are not the best way to go. Let’s use plant-based ink,” Garcia said. “I started using Henna and that evolved into temporary tattooing. From then on my friends looked at my designs and said, ‘Hey, I want you to draw something on me.’”
The pitch competition marked the end of the 10th cohort of the Idea Accelerator, which has included 420 teams over the years. This fall, 50 business ideas vied for a spot in the finals, but only six teams made it to the pitch competition.
Flash Photography, a student photography contracting company, placed second. It was created by Terry College of Business students Will Johnson and Hattie Chancy, and Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication student Caroline Dietrich. PlantMate, a customized garden management app created by College of Environment and Design graduate student Saadia Rais, took third.
The three other finalists were:
- Chow Reserves, founded by College of Engineering student Stephen Singh, is a food waste sustainability company working to reduce food sent to landfills.
- Island Gyals, founded by Franklin College students Ayanna Grant, Amani Grant, and Daysha Egson, is a company selling handmade, customized crochet items.
- Grant’d, created by Terry College of Business student Jessica Cheatwood, is a professional grant writing service that aims to help parents of children with disabilities obtain Medicaid extension grants.
The UGA Idea Accelerator is sponsored by the UGA Entrepreneurship Program, whose mission is to help develop the mindset of future entrepreneurs and prepare students for business leadership roles. During the program, teams are paired with business mentors to give them advice and feedback focused on generating revenue and gaining customers. It provides a comprehensive academic program that encompasses experiential learning and equips students with the tools and resources to pursue their start-up ventures.
Studio 225 serves as a focal point for student innovation and a place for potential collaborators to meet.
Applications for the Spring 2020 Idea Accelerator are open and can be found at ugaentr.com/uga-accelerator. The program is open to any UGA or community team.