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Innovative Student Businesses Emerge from BSU Entrepreneurship Academy

November 14, 2018

Student Business Owners Establish BSU in Maryland's Entrepreneurial Community

MEDIA CONTACT: Damita Chambers, dchambers@bowiestate.edu, 301-832-2628 mobile

(BOWIE, Md.) – When her friend Richard Foster suggested starting a laundry business after she took his t-shirt from dingy to pristine, Maris Screen had doubts that she could own a business while still a Bowie State University student.

Richard Foster and Maris Screen stand in a laundry room with a Student City Suds laundry bagNow, Foster and Screen have launched their student-run business, Student City Suds, and have a contract with the university to provide laundry services using campus facilities. Student City Suds is just one of several businesses, launched with the help of the BSU Entrepreneurship Academy.

“It’s a great feeling to be a business owner,” said Screen, a junior business administration major. “But sometimes, it’s still surreal. I never thought I would own a business, especially as a college student.”

After taking second place in the Entrepreneurship Academy’s Idea Competition in April, Screen and Foster, also a junior business administration major, participated in the university’s Summer Launch Program where they got access to mentors and coaching that enabled them to launch their idea into a business. By summer’s end, they had secured a contract with Bowie State University.

Among the other businesses that have developed and flourished through the Entrepreneurship Academy is senior business administration major DeRonte Craig’s business, Gentlemen’s Toolbox, a men’s accessories business. Craig has a contract with the BSU Bookstore to sell products in the store. Craig also participated in the Summer Launch Program to develop his idea for a company that uses wearable technology for senior citizens, so that their loved ones can monitor their health.

Senior business administration major Brian Hill’s GoFech is an online platform to promote community events and organizations though social media videos. Hill recently secured a contract with a group representing African-American Chick-fil-A owners to provide videos for their events.

Another Entrepreneurship Academy success story is sophomore business administration major Na’Quon Willett and his business Taste Block, designed to provide flavorful, diverse cuisines made from ethically raised food. Among Willett’s customers was the Bowie Business Innovation Center (Bowie BIC), located at Bowie State, during the business accelerator’s Innovate Bowie event in October to celebrate local entrepreneurs.

Visual communication & digital media arts major Brian Barber’s business, Mr. New School, is making a difference in how children learn math and reading skills. Mr. New School produces educational resources, including his book to help children learn the alphabet, that integrate the arts and make learning fun.

As the Entrepreneurship Academy students expand their connections throughout the state, they help establish Bowie State as a destination for emerging business leaders.

Connecting to Maryland’s Entrepreneurial Community

During Global Entrepreneurship Week from Nov. 12-16, the BSU Entrepreneurship Academy is the host for several events that provide a forum for budding entrepreneurs to engage with local experts and gain hands-on experience to hone their skills in developing businesses.

On Wednesday, the Entrepreneurship Academy partnered with StartUp Maryland, an organization supporting emerging entrepreneurs with the potential for high-growth ventures, to bring a multimedia bus to the campus as part of a statewide tour. Student entrepreneurs recorded 2- to 4-minute video pitches of their businesses that will be part of StartUp Maryland’s Pitch Across competition.

Group of dignataries, including Butch the Bulldog mascot and President Breaux, stand in front of the gold StartUp Maryland bus  

Three female and two male students wearing black "StartUp Maryland at Bowie State University" t-shirts with white and gold lettering   A male and a female student wearing "StartUp Maryland" t-shirts stand behind a table of items for sale


In addition, students from the Entrepreneurship Academy have participated in events across the state, including a recent entrepreneur conference hosted by TEDCO, an organization that supports entrepreneurs in Maryland. They were among the attendees featured in TEDCO’s monthly e-newsletter.

For students like Maris Screen, the Entrepreneurship Academy has provided her with a platform where she can learn that she does have what it takes to start and run a successful business. She has big dreams for Student City Suds. “I want laundry day to be a thing of the past. I want people to think, ‘I’ll just call up Student City Suds.’”

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About Bowie State University
Bowie State University (BSU) is an important higher education access portal for qualified persons from diverse academic and socioeconomic backgrounds, seeking a high-quality and affordable public comprehensive university. The university places special emphasis on the science, technology, cybersecurity, teacher education, business, and nursing disciplines within the context of a liberal arts education. For more information about BSU, visit www.bowiestate.edu.