The University of Baltimore’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) helps thriving business ventures connect the dots.
"The CEI encourages and supports the entrepreneurial endeavors of our students, alumni, faculty, and the Baltimore area entrepreneurial ecosystem," says Henry Mortimer, director of the center. "To see our alumni being recognized for their hard work means a lot to us here at UBalt."
Recently, three UBalt alumnae earned important career recognitions. Each credits the CEI for its support and guidance in their entrepreneurial endeavors.
Takia Ross, B.A. '11, is owner and lead makeup artist for Accessmatized, LLC and Pretty Mobile Baltimore. Ross was recently name to The Baltimore Sun's "25 Women to Watch in 2019."
"You can come back from anything. You can change your narrative. Every day is a new day to get it right," Ross tells The Sun.
"I am a Baltimore girl through and through," she says. "And, I love my city, so to receive this honor felt like the city was saying it loved me, too."
After graduating from UBalt, Ross launched Accessmatized, LLC from her home. Unfamiliar with concepts like cash flow and balance sheets, she entered and won UBalt's Leonard and Phyllis Attman Competitive Business Prize competition and the Rise to the Challenge Pitch Competition.
Now, her growing beauty empire provides makeup artistry for models, photo shoots, weddings, galas, and professional speakers throughout the Baltimore area. Ross is also a current CEI entrepreneur in residence, which she describes as a full circle moment.
"I remember being a student and being guided by faculty and staff," she says. "To think that now I am able to impart my knowledge on to other UBalt students and alumni, while continuing to grow and expand my network, is truly a blessing."
UBalt students consistently move up in their chosen fields using the foundational power of their UBalt degrees. Many, like Takia Ross, a UBalt major in History, find success in their entrepreneurial careers by learning about the people, the city, and the everyday needs that are always there, waiting to be fulfilled.
In 2017, Shelby Blondell, B.S. '14, MBA '18, impressed judges during UBalt's Leonard and Phyllis Attman Competitive Business Competition, claiming first place for her product, The Sheller, a patent-pending stainless steel, multi-function crab mallet, knife, and bottle opener.
Now, in 2019, Blondell has been nominated for consideration on the ballot for a Grammy nomination for her album Mercy.
"The Grammy process is a series of rounds, and my latest single, "Mercy," made it to the For Your Consideration ballot, which is the final round," Blondell explains. "This feeling is surreal, and I feel like all the hard work paid off."
She credits the CEI for providing a "place to call home" while attending UBalt.
"I always felt productive and grateful to be surrounded by entrepreneurs, peers, and mentors who showed me new ways to think about my career and products," she says.
The winner of the 2016 Leonard and Phyllis Attman Competitive Business Prize Competition, Robin Holmes , B.A. '12, is owner of Deddle's Donuts, a local food truck selling mini-donuts, chicken, and fresh squeezed lemonade.
"Winning the competition allowed Deddle's Donuts to purchase an additional machine and expand the business by offering indoor catering services," Holmes says.
Recently, Greater Baltimore SCORE announced Holmes as the recipient of its 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year award. She attended the SCORE awards ceremony with John Zuknick, B.S. '12, M.B.A. '14, an adjunct professor in UBalt's Marketing and Entrepreneurship programs, and one of Holmes's mentors.
"John has played an instrumental role in the success and growth of Deddle's Donuts," Holmes says. "The CEI has been a solid foundation from which I was able to start and grow my business, and I will forever be grateful for the mentorship and resources it provides."
Learn more about UBalt's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.