Startup Studio Announces Its Inaugural Cohort

The new 10-week summer program helps UT students and recent alumni launch ideas into businesses

June 10, 2024

The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI), housed in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Haslam College of Business, is excited to announce the inaugural summer 2024 Startup Studio cohort.

Startup Studio is a new 10-week summer program designed to help launch ideas into businesses through an intensive curriculum, mentoring and interdisciplinary collaboration. The program is exclusively for current UT students and university alumni who have graduated within 12 months of applying to the program. For the inaugural cohort, 10 ideas and 11 founders were selected.

“I truly feel so honored to be a part of the inaugural cohort,” says Nick DiMeglio, Startup Studio ’24 cohort member. “I cannot wait to start developing my startup with Haseeb and the rest of the cohort. Thank you to all those involved for allowing me and my startup with this amazing opportunity.” 

The program runs from June 24 through the end of August and is led by Haseeb Qureshi (“HQ”), a startup founder, attorney, full-stack coder and Haslam lecturer.

“I am so incredibly excited for this cohort,” says Qureshi. “We have 10 diverse ideas from 11 fantastic founders, ranging from service companies to apps and everything in between. The applicant pool was incredibly strong, so selecting this cohort was a fantastic challenge. This cohort was carefully selected to maximize everyone’s chances of successfully launching by the end of August. Entrepreneurship can be a life changer for anyone. If we can help these entrepreneurs get launched in 10 short weeks, I hope we can inspire others to change their lives, too.”

Meet the Startup Studio Summer 2024 Cohort

Alexa Schnitkka is a recent sports management master’s graduate from Muskego, Wisconsin. She started Athlete Meditations to improve team performance and athletic mental health through sport meditation coaching services and resources.

Ashtin Hara is a rising senior from Chicago pursuing a major in finance. Her business is Hey Mom!, a personal safety app that leverages user location and messages with family and friends to help users feel safer anywhere they go.

Blake Hopkins, a rising senior from Fayetteville, Tennessee, pursuing a major in supply chain management with a minor in entrepreneurship, started Partnerly. His business will streamline paid partnerships between content creators and small businesses looking for better ROI from their social media engagement.

Connor Langford, a Knoxville native, is a rising senior pursuing a major in marketing with a collateral in entrepreneurship. His business, BoxBoost Strategies, is a marketing agency providing customer acquisition and retention services to CrossFit gyms anywhere.

Ian Parten, a recent accounting major graduate from Chattanooga, founded Algorhythm. His business will bring predictive analytics to touring musicians to maximize fan engagement and profitability.

Jackson Zimmer is a rising senior from Baltimore, Maryland, pursuing a major in finance with a collateral in entrepreneurship. His business, CoinQuest, will provide focused financial literacy to older teens and young adults and help them better budget, save and invest at their current stage in life.

Jess Taylor, a recent graphic design major from Springfield, Tennessee, founded Soundtrack, a company that aims to reduce anxiety and increase mindfulness by recording and logging encountered sounds, allowing users to reflect on their experience and take action toward better well-being. Soundtrack helps users create a deeper connection with their surroundings and collect and explore life’s sounds.

Madison Murray, a recent marketing major and entrepreneurship collateral graduate from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and Claudia Dipasupil, a recent marketing major and entrepreneurship minor graduate from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, teamed up to create CM Creations. Their business is taking the guesswork out of imagining, planning and envisioning events with their augmented reality service.

Nick DiMeglio is a Full-Time MBA candidate from Somerset, New Jersey. He started 732 Sports, a sports agency focusing on reducing post-retirement economic and life instability for collegiate and professional athletes.

Vance Sohn is a Physicians Executive MBA candidate from Great Falls, Virginia. He started Room9, an app for cancer patients to monitor their remission, send reminders for post-treatment screenings and provide in-app support for their friends and families.

About the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation 

The Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is a university-based resource for entrepreneurship across the region and the state of Tennessee. Its mission is to foster an entrepreneurial culture at UT and across the state by developing student skills, providing experiential learning opportunities, conducting meaningful entrepreneurial research and connecting students with mentors and resources that enable them to successfully start and grow new businesses.

Photo, top row L-R: Ian Parten, Claudia Dipasupil, Vance Sohn, Alexa Schnitkka, Blake Hopkins; bottom row L-R: Jackson Zimmer, Jess Taylor, Nick DiMeglio, Madison Murray, Connor Langford, Ashtin Hara


Brennan Hullett,