November 05, 2018

Student startup successful at 2018 Spark Match competition

Written by: Challis Wells

Media contact: Alicia Rohan


weida streamWeida Tan, founder of FledgingFledging, a company born from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s initiative to promote student entrepreneurship, won a $10,000 cash prize at the 2018 Spark Match competition. The student startup advanced through two rounds of the tournament by pitching to investors on why the business exists and why investing in the company is a good decision.

“BVC Spark Match brought us new friends and reunited us with old ones,” said Weida Tan, founder of Fledging. “We are grateful for the generous support we are receiving from the community. At our current stage, the best way to express our gratitude is to continuously grow our company, so we can have enough resources to contribute back to the community in the future. Therefore, the prize money will be directly used for sales and marketing.”

Fledging provides software and hardware replacement solutions to upgrade storage capabilities for Apple computers. And the purpose of the competition, put on by the Birmingham Venture Club, is to connect Birmingham’s entrepreneurs and startup companies with the city’s investors and business influencers.

“In Spark Match, we let the audience vote to determine the winner of a tournament-style pitch competition,” Paul Pless, president of the Birmingham Venture Club said. “The competitors for our third annual Spark Match were as strong as ever.

“Weida did a great job of articulating not only the vision for Fledging but also the measurable value and outcomes that Fledging is achieving with its products,” Pless added. “And he did it in three minutes, which is really impressive.”

Fledging was founded by two UAB students, Weida Tan, a doctoral student in the UAB Department of Computer Sciences, and Steven Robbins, a computer science undergraduate. The business was one of seven student-led startups that emerged from UAB’s first Commercialization Accelerator class, an initiative of the  Bill L. Harbert Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

After completing the free 10-week program, Tan and Robbins were armed with the fundamentals of entrepreneurship that allowed them to propel their business ideas into reality.

“The Student Accelerator Program cultivates the entrepreneurial spirits on-campus, enabling student founders to turn their ideas into profit-earning companies,” Tan said. “Students have longed for this type of endeavor for years. The vision of this program will impact the entire student body and the startup community for years to come.” 

The $10,000 Spark Match prize is not Fledging’s first accomplishment. Since its launch, Fledging has grown to see more than $60,000 in monthly revenue, secured a launch to the Amazon marketplace and begun operating out of Innovation Depot, the premier hub for Birmingham’s startup networks.