Congratulations Bootcamp Spring 2023 Winning Startups!

The Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship (VACE), in the Gatton College of Business & Economics, is proud to announce 16 winning early-stage startups that graduated from The Spring 2023 Entrepreneurs Bootcamp Online Accelerator Program! Congratulations to both sections for completing Bootcamp 2.0 and 1.0, while earning early stage capital to catapult their ventures! These startup funds are generously sponsored by The Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise, and a Lexington, Kentucky-based startup, Rave On Sports! Rave On Sports is led by local Co-founders, James Clark (President) and Brittany Harris (CMO).


Bootcamp 2.0 - Thursday Section Winning Startups

1st place - $4,000 | Cultivate Recovery Center

Carolyn Benedict is an MBA student at The University of Kentucky in the Gatton College of Business and Economics.  She is the Founder and CEO of Cultivate Recovery Center (CRC) located in Louisville, Kentucky. The CRC is a Drug and Alcohol treatment facility and focuses on alternative therapies to help people recover form addiction. The vision for this facility will be on 6+ acres of land and resemble a working farm. Alternative treatment programming includes, but would not be limited to, animal assisted therapies (including equine), gardening, cooking, art therapies, wood shop, kinetic wellness, massage, and hypnotherapy. These alternative therapies are in addition to standard behavioral therapies that are widely used in drug and alcohol treatment centers. There are only a few private treatment centers in Louisville and they market locally - this would start as a local treatment center, but the idea is to market nationwide. Carolyn would like to plan and construct the initial flagship Louisville. Her goal is the scale the treatment program in order for it to be replicated, and additional treatment facilities across Southern & Mid-West states and become a national name in quality addiction treatment.

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2nd place -  $3,000 | Cultured Remedy LLC

Dr. Jitana P. Benton-Lee is the Founder and CEO of Cultured Remedy LLC.  She is a professor at Northern Kentucky University, in the College of Health & Human Services, School of Nursing.

Cultured Remedy, LLC is a virtual clearinghouse for engaging and training nurses and their BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) patients in equity-minded competencies, knowledge-building, and praxis related to decreasing social health inequities. The primary purpose of this entrepreneurial idea is to alleviate two of the three B’s (behavior and bias), as the third B, biology) is immutable. Both nurses and patients can access virtual resources, tools, training opportunities, and assessment guides.

Cultured Remedy, LLC will offer self-paced learning opportunities – free and fee-based – with audiovisual elements inclusive of closed caption for videos, audio transcription, consistent navigation, standard course formatting, plain language, clear instruction, and descriptive hyperlinks in blended and virtual settings.

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3rd place - $2,000 | Afford

Linda Russell is a former University of Kentucky staff member and Lexington-based community entrepreneur.  She is currently employed at Bryant's Rental as an Event Consultant.  Previous work experience includes - Private Dining/Catering Manager at DV8 Kitchen and Saul Good two weeks before Covid hit in March of 2020.  Worked at Apiary Fine Catering & Events during the pandemic and she found herself longing to be back in the non-profit sector doing something that comes naturally to me to contribute to a bottom line. Recently, she realized a gap for much needed services for baby Boomers and their families.  Boomers are the largest living adult population until 2019. According to the US Census Bureau, US boomers will remain the second-largest population group in 2022, comprised of 69.6 million people ages 58 to 76.

Linda is the Founder & CEO of Afford, which is a service-based platform for Boomers that involves experts in the field of Aging to develop a format/prototype for families to prepare for all aspects of the Encore Stage; from encore career, downsizing, to end of life events. Other service packages will include half-day conferences and consults all focused on Boomers their children and friends.  Make it a gift to each other to be prepared and help them to understand that you will honor their wishes and the things that they hold dear for the next generation. The vision for Afford is to help bring families closer together and be therapeutic and cathartic. It will lessen the helplessness and lonely feelings family members will have at the end. 

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4th place - $1,500 | Navigating Higher Education

Professor Bertin Louis is the founder of Navigating Higher Education, which offers coaching and consultations for graduate students and aspiring tenure-track faculty members. Whether you are looking to gain entrance into a graduate school program or secure an academic position, working with NHE can improve your chances of realizing your professional academic goals.

Bertin M. Louis, Jr. is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and African American & Africana Studies (AAAS) at the University of Kentucky and served as the inaugural Director of Undergraduate Studies for AAAS (2019-2021). He is President of the Association of Black Anthropologists, past Editor of Conditionally Accepted, and a current regular contributor to Higher Ed Jobs. He is a 2015 UTK Quest Scholar of the week, a 2013 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Travel Grant Award recipient and a 2012 American Anthropological Association (AAA) Leadership Fellow. Dr. Louis studies the growth of Protestant forms of Christianity among Haitians transnationally, which is featured in his New York University Press book, “My Soul is in Haiti: Protestantism in the Haitian Diaspora of the Bahamas (2015)” which was a Finalist for the 2015 Haitian Studies Association Book Prize in the Social Sciences. He also studies human rights and statelessness among Haitians in the Bahamas and antiracist social movements in the US South. Dr. Louis teaches courses in Black Studies and Cultural Anthropology and he received his PhD in 2008 from the Department of Anthropology at Washington University in Saint Louis.

Dr. Louis also informs students, faculty, and the public about Haitian history and culture. Since the 2010 Haiti earthquake, he has appeared on WATE-6 News at 5:30, Tennessee This Week, The George Korda Radio Show, The Hubert Smith Radio Show and UT Today. As part of those efforts, he also created the FOCUS ON HAITI website for the Association of Black Anthropologists, which served as the main Haiti informational website for the American Anthropological Association.

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5th place - $800 | Tranquil

Vaughn Holder is a University of Kentucky alum, currently teaching as adjunct faculty at the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture. He works full time in Ag-Biotech with Alltech.

Tranquil is a startup that will provide a nutritional supplement that significantly alleviates the symptoms of IBS-D. IBS affects approximately 12% of the US population (about 40 million people) and IBSD makes up the largest proportion of people with IBS (40%, 16 million people). IBS has no known cause and cannot be cured. Therefore alleviation of symptoms is the only option. Most known treatment options have side effects that may affect the quality of life patients. This nutritional solution is drug free and comes in a protein shake form and significantly reduces IBS-D symptoms with no known side effects.

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6th place - $700 | BossiRainbow

Dr. Jaleesa Wells is an Assistant Professor of Arts Administration at the University of Kentucky, and the Founder & CEO of BossiRainbow.  She teaches courses on the arts and artists in society, sustainable leadership in the arts, and management and organization in the arts and culture sector across the BA, MA, and PhD programs. Prior to joining the UK faculty, Dr. Wells taught in the areas of arts and festivals management and international cultural policy, as well as entrepreneurship, venture planning, and creativity and innovation at higher education institutions in Scotland and England (“the other UK”).

BossiRainbow is a family-owned and operated wearable art enterprise. What started as a creative practice in England has become an emerging creative enterprise based in Berea KY. We bring together a diverse range of art and craft practices such as bead-making, wire-wrapping, and material collage to hand-make and handcraft our wearable art from raw materials. Our main project focuses for the bootcamp are to develop our business story as part of our authentic marketing, and explore sustainable packaging for our artwork.

Dr. Wells’ research focuses on the hybrid intersections between culture and enterprise, such as the emergence of social enterprise in the arts and culture sector, of which she was awarded the ‘President’s Award for Best Paper by an Early Career Researcher’ at the 39th Annual Conference for the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship in Paris, France. Concurrently, she conducts creative and collaborative scholarship that investigates the experiences of Black women in cultural institutions, as well as scholarship exploring the making, unmaking, and use of institutional data as an creative practice. Dr. Wells also maintains an arts practice and embeds her research with creative methods such as poetry, performance, and visual art.

Professionally, Dr. Wells worked as an arts administrator in the performing arts: serving as the finance manager of a spectacle theatre company in Chicago, and working in public relations, marketing, and ticket office management in opera houses throughout the country such as Central City Opera and Glimmerglass Opera. Dr. Wells also served as an AmeriCorps member with the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky and Habitat for Humanity of Metro Louisville, where she was awarded the honor of joining the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.

Dr. Wells earned her Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship at Strathclyde Business School in Scotland, U.K., a Master of Arts in Arts Administration and Policy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Science in Theatre Management with a minor in Business Administration from the University of Evansville.

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Directors Award - $500 | Be Fly Fitness

Demethra Sanders is a Lexington-based community entrepreneur and the founder of a new startup concept called Be Fly Fitness.  Erica Shroeder was a contributing team member on this project (email: There are plenty of places to workout but is there a place that you actually feel comfortable? That you really feel good about working out and are getting the best benefit? What if your skin color made a difference in how you work out? What if your body type doesn't match the person next to you? Now do you feel comfortable? Be Fly Fitness is different. ALL are welcome and here comfortable is our focus! Bungee cord fitness is the new way to work out. If you have ever struggled with your joints, if you have ever felt embarrassed trying to do a push up or a sit up, if you just want a place that you feel like you want to be you, this is it! We will also offer regular step and yoga classes. Not only will this be a place where you will feel comfortable working out but this will be a place to find the perfect health and wellness that you need!

Health and wellness is also the key to feeling comfortable! Whether it will be healthy eating on a budget, healthy living advice, needing a good doctor's recommendation, hair care, nail care, skin care, or mental well-being, we will be here. Even if you just need to sit and be, we will be here. Our ultimate goal is to have a place where you just feel comfortable in your own skin. Black, brown, white, peach, orange or any other color along with being comfortable in your own body. Big, medium or small are you comfortable?

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Directors Award - $500 | Revelation Woodworking

Mark Litvin is a Kentucky community entrepreneur and the team leader of Revelation Woodworking. This startup is a business focused on making heirloom quality wooden products including tables, cutting/charcuterie boards, as well as doors. Our goal is simple, to make memorable items that will last generations upon generations. The business sparked from a simple desire to make items that far surpassed the quality of larger corporations, and not for the sake of beating them but rather to make items that last longer and operate better. Layla Angeles Plakosh was a contributing team member on this project (email:

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Bootcamp 1.0 - Monday Section Winning Startups

1st place - $2,000 | Safety Scoop

The Safety Scoop solves the problem of spilling powered supplements when scooping them and pouring them into a water bottle or container. It is similar to a conventional scoop with an attached funnel on the bottoms to ensure that you aren't wasting any of the powered supplement. This idea came to be because of personal issues that Devon was having while scooping prelockout into a water bottle. Devon was trying to make a funnel with his hand or find a piece of paper to fold into a funnel just to get it into the bottle. Devon figured there needs to be a better way to go about doing this. He has made a prototype but is in the works of making another one right now, the last one definitely needed some work. Devon's goal for this semester would be to get a final product finalized and to get in contact with people in the market willing to buy. Devon would also like to get in contact with a patent lawyer to get the product patent pending. "I also plan on winning the prize money at the end of the semester. That money will go directly to paying off the patent that is needed to progress the company further. I am very excited to work with the people who end up being on my team, I hope that they see what I see in this idea."

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2nd place -  $1,700 | The Kruzer Leash

Missy Ward is a Kentucky-based entrepreneur that invented a non-bending leash that prevents an animal from wrapping the leash around the walker to help prevent injuries. Over 46,000 people are injured each year by being tripped or pulled down by a pet, mostly dogs. The result of those falls can be as simple as bruises but can cause broken bones. In addition, many of the injuries are to senior citizens. After a serious fall, a senior may not want to have another pet- but be hesitant to get one. Thus, Missy was inspired to create a leash to solve these problems. Missy also works part-time at WUKY as a news anchor, a full time realtor, and is involved in community organizations.

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Contributing Team Member: Zinnah Caluag, Email:


3rd place - $1,400 | Black Business Boxes

Launched in 2020 by Savon Gray and Robbie Dobbs, Black Business Boxes was born during a time of unrest in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. After weeks of deliberation, protesting and consideration, the pair decided to try to make a change in an unconventional way. Savon Gray is committed to finding new opportunities and expanding his view of the world. With experience in entrepreneurship, finance, hospitality, sales and leadership, he strives to expand his knowledge base daily. Savon enjoys helping others meet their goals, whether financially, within their business, or with their travel goals! What is a Black business box? Black Business Boxes, a streamlined process for entities to support multiple Black-owned businesses with one purchase. Black Business Boxes curates boxes with products from different Black-owned businesses and helps market and present them to a larger audience. Black Business Boxes make great gifts to show appreciation, support, and contain great products that deserve recognition. Black Business Boxes Website

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Contributing Team Members: Robbie Dobbs ( and Kathleen Urch (


4th place - $1,000 | MelaGlia

"Through my personal experiences and lessons learned while nurturing my passions in medical science, I am fiercely motivated to promote health equity through MelaGlia: an organization that supports ethnic minorities in owning their biology while advancing clinical medicine. MelaGlia is a scientific organization that addresses the lack of biological diversity in medical research."

Historically, African Americans and other ethnic minorities have not been adequately represented in clinical research and the development of medical therapies. Despite efforts from the government and private organizations, this lack of diversity can be attributed to a lack of trust and a lack of access. MelaGlia works to assist communities in overcoming those past ethical and social barriers by allowing each participant to receive a proprietary benefit for donated samples that lead to pharmaceutical or therapeutic development. We support underrepresented communities in regaining autonomy and control in their clinical experience.

Unlike other scientific organizations, the donor will still be a partial owner of their samples due to our unique intellectual privacy policy, so if our organization or a third-party pharmaceutical organization develops therapeutics based on the utilization of their provided sample, the donor receives a percentage of the compensation through HIPAA-compliant mechanisms. This policy allows donors to receive a direct return, but also contributes to developing a more effective medical intervention for all Americans. A broader understanding of disease and treatment will reduce racial biases reported at both ends of healthcare settings and normalize diverse disease presentations.


Contributing Team Member: Tristan Ntego (


5th place - $900 | Avekan

Nur Mandadi a connector, IT professional, educator and life-long learner with experience in Healthcare, M&A, Project Management, Data Center Operations, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery. She was 2018 Cohort of Bingham Fellows and currently serves as the Director of Mentor Program with RockIT Women, supporting women in STEM and IT. She served on the boards of Louisville Data Commons and Brightside and served on the event coordinator group for Startup Weekend for Louisville for two years. She is currently enrolled in University of Louisville’s Pathways Coalition Cybersecurity Workforce Certification program which is a collaboration of a group of universities and NSA. Nur is also working on getting on board to share her knowledge in Math, Business and Technology as a substitute teacher at JCPS.

Nur is continuing her mentorship efforts with the two duPont Manual sophomores, Rayna Mandadi and Shruti Senthilnathan, who are enrolled in the MST program and are joining as the contributing members to Avekan team to see their work come to fruition. Rayna, who won the Lemonade Day Louisville as Lemonade Baristas and received the President’s Young Female Entrepreneur NAWBO award is continuing her entrepreneurship journey. Rayna is also a Girls Scout and a WYSP scholar. Both Shruti and Rayna are volunteering as Educational Justice Activists and are part of AHEC Northwest program.

Avekan is Shruti and Rayna’s startup that will provide a wearable device which help detect sleepiness in the situations where being alert is important. Avekan uses Machine Learning and Google Colab to train the model. CAD is used to create an ear-piece that fits different ear sizes for more accurate reading of EEG signals. Avekan aims to make their device cost-efficient, customizable and widely available. Even though their first idea came from their friends and themselves as students for a need to stay focused during classes and while studying, they also expanded their research and want to reach out to long-distance drivers, especially truck drivers after their research indicated that the truck drivers rely on stimulants to stay awake and focused on the road.

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Contributing Team Members: Rayna Mandadi ( and Shruti Senthilnathan (


Directors Award - $500 | ModWagon

Brad Olson is a assistant professor at The College of Agriculture. "Trained at a land-grant university, I believe in the public value of higher education, where institutions have not only the capacity but also the responsibility to advance scholarship and improve quality of life through its application. As a result, I am interested in finding effective ways to communicate scholarship, educate public audiences, and engage local stakeholders around community development issues."

I am proposing a company and product called ModWagon. It is a highly modular and modifiable transport solution for family, work, and play. As a system, ModWagon is part bike trailer, part stroller-wagon, and part handcart but 100% utilitarian and value-driven. The key to ModWagon’s adaptability is its platform design, which prioritizes a high strength-to-weight ratio, versatile payload management, and blend of industry-standard and DIY mounting options. ModWagon is 100% utilitarian and all possibilities start with the modular platform into which everything else connects. The system consists of a base model (platform, main axle and wheels, and trailer arm for towing by bike). From there, customers can choose individual accessories or bundled kits (handles, additional wheels, rails, organizers, divider panels, canopy) to configure the trailer as they desire. All in, the ModWagon system can be made into a towable bike trailer for kids, pets, or cargo (or a combination), a push stroller/cart, a pull wagon, or a handcart/dolly. This multi-functionality is just the beginning. Its design and mounting points will also make retrofitting standard bike accessories easy and be compatible with commonly available structural stock and hardware that allows customers to build and mount their own modifications.

While the ModWagon system is meant to be highly functional out-of-the-box, it also represents a blank canvas. The ability to configure, integrate, and customize should appeal to all customers but especially those who want to take their adventures to the next level as well as bike-based entrepreneurs who need a trailer suited to their business needs. We can’t wait to explore new possibilities with our customers and look forward to building a creative and innovative brand community around the platform.


Contributing Team Members: Josiel Barrios Cossio ( and Tiantian Li (


Directors Award - $500 | theLab

Jill Schinberg is an Assistant Professor of Arts Administration at the University of Kentucky. She started her professional career at Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa and has subsequently held positions with Bay Area music promoter Another Planet Entertainment, Festival Internacional de Videodanza in Buenos Aires, Rena Shagan Associates in New York, and (most recently) Cal Performances in Berkeley. Along with producing and directing, she has served as a consultant to emerging arts organizations, venues, and dance companies in the United States and South America.

Bootcamp project overview: Jill's startup concept is called, "theLAB," and she will be working on this idea on Bootcamp 1.0.

Arts presenting is a mission-driven, relational activity that is as artistic as it is administrative. A presenter facilitates exchanges between artists and audiences through creative, educational, and performance opportunities. The work that these artists perform is typically constructed (produced) outside of the presenting organization. Presenters are typically found at colleges or universities, as an administrative branch of a theater or concert hall, or independently administered outside of a specific venue (usually renting several venues for performances).

There is no arts organization in Lexington for which presenting is its primary purpose, activity, or function. As a Team Leader, I hope to determine the feasibility and sustainability of adding a performing arts presenting organization to the arts ecology of Lexington, KY.

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Contributing Team Members: Dan Sandfelder (


Directors Award - $500 | Bebe Systems Consulting, LLC

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), reports that U.S. trade with Africa and other developing countries is dominated by oil and gas exports. Consequently, regulatory mechanisms to increase trust and expand trade in manufactured products is one of the strategies being developed. BSC intends to connect Kentucky and US manufacturers of environmental, analytical and diagnostic equipment as a vendor, in order to take advantage of this development. For, “paying a vendor is sometimes cheaper than buying directly from a supplier.” Our slogan – “Service without Borders” best describes BSC’s global business attitude. Thus, BSC aims to:
1) Reduce contact, search, financial and operational bottlenecks between Kentucky and US environmental, analytical and diagnostic equipment manufacturers and consumers or buyers from African and other developing countries.
2) The search for buyers of high-end technologies has become very competitive with the aggressive entry of Chinese and other middle income Asian countries
3) BSC’s knowledge of the market and culture of the countries or area of operation would be an asset to Kentucky and US manufacturers.

BSC, LLC has been registered in Kentucky since 2021.

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