What do spreadsheets, seasoning your food less and being sent to the principal’s office all have in common? Look no further than the ambitious Founders in Residence of Bubble Immerse.
This year’s fresh crop of innovators are 45% women and 54% NYC-based, but the impact of their ventures transcends their local communities to reach a global audience. No matter the origin story, these underrepresented founders tackle widely felt challenges to improve the lives of people ranging from people seeking culturally relevant nutrition guidance to those antagonized by their natural hair journey.
Like the founders before them, Cohort 5 is deeply motivated by lived experience. What’s unique is the degree to which these observations have guided their lives and, ultimately, the vision for their businesses.
We invite you to sign up for Demo Day to learn about the incredible solutions these founders are building; and read about the experiences that catalyzed their entrepreneurial journeys:
Adjoa Opoku, Soiré
Adjoa Opoku is the founder of Soiré, a platform that lets restaurant diners book group reservations and wrangle payment from flaky friends. Her work over the last 15 years typically fell into one of two camps: solving the rapidly evolving creative challenges of the Fortune 500 and refining startup founders’ visions for launch and fundraising. Born, raised and currently residing in Chicago, she spent 7 years in New York City building a background in strategy, UI and UX design. Adjoa holds an MFA in Interaction Design from the School of Visual Arts and a BFA in Communication Design from Syracuse University. She has worked on projects for brands like IBM, Apple, and HP. As an active proponent of user centered design, Adjoa consistently advocates to bring the customer perspective into the design process.
Antonia Hyman, Plantain
Antonia Hyman is the founder of Plantain, an inclusive nutrition coaching platform that helps people put evidence-based nutrition guidelines into practice. After struggling with a digestive disorder for over a decade and receiving ineffective dietetics care, Antonia decided to create the solution to her problem by building a platform to scale the impact of culturally responsive dietitians. As a firm believer that food and culture are deeply intertwined, Antonia emphasizes how essential it is that nutrition intervention puts an individual’s culture at the center. Through Plantain, Antonia is augmenting access to culturally tailored nutrition coaching by using her personal health struggle and interdisciplinary background across law, finance, and corporate strategy. She holds a B.A. from Princeton University, an MBA from Columbia Business School, and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, certain to propel her forward as a competitive leader.
Ariana Abramson, DivySci
Ariana Abramson is the founder and CEO of DivySci Software, an Artificial Intelligence-based communication company. Ariana is a proud Nuyorican, born and raised in Queens, New York. Her mission is to change behaviors to accelerate equity. Ariana earned a Master of Science in Data Science from Columbia University and has advanced certifications from Columbia and Harvard Business School. At the intersection of her experiences as a Puerto Rican woman and a Data Scientist, Ariana realized advances in Artificial Intelligence could create true harmony between individuals through language and connection. As founder & CEO of DivySci, Ariana oversees the research and development of the product. To date, she has been recognized by Black Ambition, Google Latino Founders Fund, Camelback Ventures, GrepBeat News, and Home and Business Magazine among others. This success is attributed to Abramson’s core belief that Artificial Intelligence can be built to ensure women of color experience true equity and economic prosperity.
Dante Richardson, Stooty Technologies
Dante Richardson is the co-founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Stooty Technologies, a platform that aims to become the operating system for production in the creative economy. Born in Buffalo, New York, he is a Stanford University-educated, award-winning entrepreneur who started his first business, an entertainment management agency, as a high school student. Richardon has since transcended business development and management, working with Taheri & Todoro Law Offices, M&T Bank, Morgan Stanley, and a variety of startups from New York to Silicon Valley. Since launching Stooty, the startup has been featured in Buffalo Inno, Entertainment Monthly News, Entertainment Post, Ritz Herald, Music Observer, Artist Weekly, and Digital Journal. The startup has participated in Launch NY's Founders Go Big program in partnership with JP Morgan to develop high-growth startups by underserved founders and SUNY at Buffalo's Business & Partnerships Startup Ventures program.
Raul Cepin, abuque
Raul Cepin is the founder of abuque, a marketplace bringing choice to immigrants shipping abroad. Cepin founded abuque after losing cargo when trying to move abroad to the Dominican Republic. It was over the course of several weeks in the country that he witnessed immense gaps in the application of digital tools to existing distribution problems. Raul’s background as a product manager with over a decade of quantitative and qualitative research experience is a driving force for abuque. Through self-learning product management, Raul successfully built a no-code skill and career tracker that helped over 100 people land roles and internships in technology. Currently, he works as a lead product manager at a Fortune 500 company innovating the application of AI in real estate. He is passionate about inclusive product development and building digital solutions for immigrant communities.
Jonathan Muruako, Fitalyst
Jonathan Muruako is the founder of Fitalyst, a tool humanizing campus engagement data to close the achievement gap for first-gen students and their institutions. Muruako is a first-generation Nigerian-American who grew up in a small town in Mississippi (Holly Springs). He first attended the University of Pennsylvania as a Gates Millennium Scholar where he received his bachelor’s in Biological Basis of Behavior and completed master's degrees in Public Health and Bioethics. He’s currently working on his third master's in Nonprofit Leadership with a concentration in Social Entrepreneurship at UPenn. After 10 years of post-secondary education, Muruako is building the prioritization tool that he and other first-gen students wished they always had. Muruako believes that true innovation and social impact are inextricably connected. If Fitalyst helps first-gen students succeed, the platform will help other specific student populations (student athletes, international students, etc) succeed and perhaps help all students better prioritize in college.
Obianozo (Obi) Chukwuma, MMARA
Obi Chukwuma is a co-founder of MMARA, a mobile application that simplifies black hair care. Chukwuma has always been a hair and beauty enthusiast determined to master her own hair, experiencing firsthand the challenges that accompany trying to understand it. She spent years scouring YouTube, Facebook groups, and Reddit, to figure out how to take care of her relaxed hair, but ultimately, her attempts fell short. In 2015, she chopped all her hair off and turned to science to successfully grow it back long and healthy. Chukwuma is originally from Doylestown, PA, and prior to MMARA, Obi obtained a BA in Civil Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a MA from Parsons School of Design. She has since worked in equity crowdfunding, helping founders raise capital by activating their own communities. Through MMARA, Obi seeks to ignore the fanfare of mainstream influencers and help women of all textures and styles, master their healthiest hair.
Peter Pearson, Ambitious Rewards
Peter Pearson is the founder of Ambitious Rewards, a rewards and benefits application incentivising children to join and stay in extracurricular activities. Pearson, who owns gymnastics company and global acrobatics brand Acrotrix, has worked with children for over 20 years. His students are his greatest joy, and some have become international champions. Incentivising youth at a grassroots level is a sincere passion for Peter, who attests to how critical extracurricular activity has been in shaping his life and others’. Prior to Ambitious Rewards, Peter has led a career in finance as a junior trader for a global commodities firm and has also managed his own nightlife and private tuition businesses.
Shaun Andrews, Mind HAC, Inc.
Shaun Andrews is the founder of Mind HAC, the Spotify for mental health content. As a former college football player, Shaun was stunned when two former teammates committed suicide due to depression. This ignited a passion in him to develop a way to provide anonymous, culturally relevant mental healthcare for youth. He'd witnessed friends and family in his small hometown in southeastern North Carolina who shunned care due to stigma. These experiences coalesced to deepen Shaun's conviction about the need for culturally relevant mental healthcare, spurring the creation of Mind HAC. Prior to this, Andrews has been an educator, corporate manager, and mental health advocate for the past 20 years. He developed a curiosity and passion for entrepreneurship in his youth by founding his own security company alongside his brother and best friend. This early entrepreneurial experience is where Andrews noticed the power of utilizing creativity to solve very complex problems. Through Mind HAC, Andrews addresses the need for individualized, culturally relevant mental healthcare for students from kindergarten to college.
Terrence Hibbert, PCIT Trac
Terrence Hibbert is a co-founder of PCIT Trac, a platform that helps pediatric behavioral health providers document Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) sessions. Hibbert has over 20 years of experience in information technology (IT) management and consulting, over half of which have been in health care. As a senior IT Director at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Terrence oversaw implementations of new applications on both on-site and cloud-based platforms. He has managed teams as large as 50 people and has led multi-million dollar enterprise software evaluations, procurement, and implementation. Terrence specializes in helping organizations use technology to improve and streamline processes, using their business goals to drive the technology outcomes. He merged all of these experiences in the pediatric behavioral health space to co-found PCIT.
Tracey Hobbs, Shifterr
Tracey Hobbs is the founder of Shifterr, a startup dedicated to connecting hospitality employers with qualified job seekers looking to fill shifts. Hobbs is a Brooklyn native with a unique professional background. She specialized in digital project management and hospitality operations for 10 years and most recently served as the Senior Manager of Editorial Operations at Peacock and Curriculum Developer and Instructor in customer service at LaGuardia Community College in New York City. Tracey holds a BA in Political Science and Criminal Justice from Rutgers University and an MS in Organizational Leadership from City University of New York (CUNY) - Lehman College. Through Shifterr, Hobbs merges her areas of expertise to provide an innovative solution that meets the needs of employers and job seekers in the hospitality industry.