The UW- Milwaukee Startup Challenge has been helping innovators, both budding and established, cultivate their ideas since its first cohort in 2012. More than 250 participants have brought in innovative ideas – from companies to products and beyond. The Startup Challenge gives bright entrepreneurs the building blocks to improve themselves in a myriad of ways. Among these individuals are several alumni of the Startup Challenge program who we caught up with to see where they are now.
Jesse DePinto graduated from UW- Milwaukee with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2013, after which he co-founded Frontdesk, the fastest growing travel company in the United States. Frontdesk offers apartments, suites, lofts, and vacation rentals in desirable locations for anywhere from a night to more than a month. He is currently the Chief Product Officer. Frontdesk currently operates in over thirty cities nationwide and has more than 250 employees.
“Learning how to fail forward. Prototypes, business model assumptions, and sometimes even teams don’t always work out. What I found to be the most important lesson was how to learn from these mistakes, embrace the failure and learning opportunities that come along with them, and continue on.” – Jesse DePinto
Alycia Doxon graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration from UW Milwaukee in 2017 and is now the Chief Operating Officer of The Halo App, a peer-to-peer lending app which connects backers and borrowers. She is also a board member of Frontdesk and Vice President of Our.News, a news website focused on stopping the spread of misinformation.
Jacarrie Carr started the nonprofit organization Jacarrie Kicks for Kids which supports kids from Milwaukee Public Schools with free, clean, and comfortable shoes. Through his organization, kids can feel comfortable going to school with the shoes they need and grow their self-esteem. Jacarrie Kicks for Kids was also a part of a Nike ad for Giannis’s signature shoe (Milwaukee Bucks athlete).
“Stick to your passion. When your passionate about something it doesn’t feel like work and you will do it forever. Never do anything based off of money. When your passionate about something and hard working the money will come.” – Jacarrie Carr
Megan Marquis founded Moxie & Mynx in 2016, and now uses her Bachelor of Science in Middle Childhood & Early Adolescence Education and Elementary Education and Teaching degrees to teach people of all ages math, physics, and chemistry in new and innovative ways.
Ibi Opuiyo is a consultant and entrepreneur that joined the Startup Challenge in 2017. Ibi formed nMed, a health service that supports multiple audiences. Her business supports her clients in every way, using technology to provide high quality medical service. Her passion is to provide great customer service, service education, and quality/process improvement.
Meghan Garvin graduated with commencement honors in Business Administration. Not only was Meghan an amazing student, but she was also one of the UWM Agent of Change Awards winners. Meghan is continuing her studies at Goldsmiths, University of London to pursue her master’s degree in sociology. Meghan is passionate about research and student safety and has done significant work and analysis around the culture surrounding institutionalized sexual violence within higher education.
Each of these alumni demonstrate the creativity, innovation, and drive required to push ahead and carve their own path. We cannot wait to see what they do next!
“Remember that entrepreneurship is a journey and not an event.” – Jesse DePinto
We are excited to work with the new participants in this year’s Startup Challenge and see where their entrepreneurial journey will take them. Interested in joining the Startup Challenge? You can find more information here. There is still time to sign up for Sprint 1!