Charlotte Inno Recognizes Young Innovators

Charlotte Inno published their inaugural list of Charlotte Inno’s Under 25 innovators. Four of the nine honorees have ties to UNC Charlotte; two of whom are from the College of Computing and Informatics (CCI). “These Inno Under 25 pieces, which we do in all 14 of American Inno’s markets, aim to highlight the fact that a healthy ecosystem has innovators of all ages driving change for the better; that there’s entrepreneurs not waiting to hit a certain milestone to influence their world. It’s always such a heartening exercise to write Under 25 stories, as I have in other markets, but there’s something even more special about discovering just how many incredible movers and shakers are in my – our – backyard here in Charlotte,” states American Inno’s New Market Editor, Courtney Gabrielson.

Fidel Henriquez, a CCI sophomore focusing on Data Science, founded Heben after winning the Business category of the Student Pitch Competition at 2019’s Charlotte Venture Challenge. After completing the Ventureprise Launch program this summer, Henriquez joined the 49er Foundry, UNC Charlotte’s Student Business Incubator, and is continuing to work on his social media fitness app and looking to launch a beta test later this fall. Sign up for his newsletter and to test his new app here.

Treven Stoddard (pictured) is a 2019 CCI graduate, and is no stranger to being awarded for his achievements with Genubot. Treven participated in Ventureprise Launch Spring 2018’s cohort, where he developed the idea of a problem-solving application for calculus and algebra students, focusing on not only providing the answer but also utilizing machine learning to determine specific concepts the student needs to focus on to learn the subject matter. Continuing to work on the app as 49er Foundry member, and winning the Student Pitch Competition at 2018 Charlotte Venture Challenge, Stoddard was also presented the Student Innovator Award at the Blue Diamond Awards. “I came up with the idea in my calculus class my freshman year. My T.A. had social anxiety and struggled with giving students additional assistance with math equations. After asking around, I realized many students were dropping out of STEM focused majors due to the frustration of algebra and calculus,” Stoddard explains.

Next on the list is Margaret Kocherga, a Ph.D. candidate in NanoScale Science in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and after she graduates this spring, she plans on tackling the startup world full time and launching Light and Charge Solutions. She has already participated in Ventureprise Launch’s regional NSF I-Corps program and will be working this winter in the National I-Corps program and interviewing over 100 potential customers in six weeks. During this time she will be focusing on finalizing partnerships and establishing a lab.

“Creative freedom” is why the fourth and final UNC Charlotte student decided to take an entrepreneurial path and join 49er Foundry. Tristin Fields, who took 2nd place in the Business category in the Student Pitch at 2019’s Charlotte Venture Challenge with Loose Lace, a social media platform centralizing sneaker culture that is designed specifically for sneaker enthusiasts. Fields, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, went through the Ventureprise Launch customer discovery program this summer and has been working this semester on finalizing his proof of concept and will be testing out his app this winter.

These impressive students were nominated by Ventureprise for their work to solve problems they identified in their lives and through their research. “All four of the young innovators have taken actionable steps to build their innovations and gather valuable feedback along the way. Having ideas and talking about problems is one thing but taking action is what sets these four students apart from all the others,” adds Devin Collins, Ventureprise Interim Executive Director.

For more information on Ventureprise programming, IDEA Pitch, 49er Foundry and upcoming events, go to

Submitted by: Laura Smailes

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