July 17, 2018

Accelerator program propels UAB student startups to successful launch

Written by: Briana Bryant

Media contact: Alicia Rohan, arohan@uab.edu



student startup streamFledging was founded by UAB students, Weida Tan and Steven Robbins. With continued growth, the company will take residence in UAB's Innovation Depot. Fledging — one of seven student-led startup ventures from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Commercialization Accelerator — has moved into Innovation Depot, allowing Fledging to operate in the hub of Birmingham’s startup network.

“We’re extremely proud to have Fledging join Innovation Depot,” said Devon Laney, president and CEO of Innovation Depot, Birmingham’s business incubator. “Not only are they a great company with an exciting product, but the move is exactly what we hope to see through our partnership with UAB — ideas coming out of the university transitioning into our incubation program to grow. We look forward to helping support Fledging’s growth.”

Founded by doctoral student Weida Tan and computer science undergraduate alumnus Steven Robbins, Fledging provides software/hardware solid-state drive replacement solutions for MacBook users. Fledging’s adaptors allow users to upgrade storage capabilities on Apple computers without requiring Apple-specific solid-state drives. 

The company is already generating more than $30,000 in monthly revenue and, with a recent launch to the Amazon marketplace, is poised for further growth. Fledging now has four employees and has begun seeking funding to develop the company’s next generation of products.

“Moving into Innovation Depot allows us to continue working alongside other entrepreneurs within the Birmingham innovation community,” Tan said. “We’re excited to keep growing the business and are looking to start expanding our product line in the coming months.”

“Our goal with the Accelerator program is to create a streamlined pathway from idea to commercialization. Fledging’s move is a significant milestone in the startup’s trajectory and underscores UAB’s efforts to feed the Birmingham innovation ecosystem.”

Fledging was one of seven student-led startups in UAB’s first Commercialization Accelerator class, an initiative of the UAB Harbert Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The 10-week program is free to UAB students, faculty and staff, and guides participants through the fundamentals of entrepreneurship with guest lectures, mentor connections and collaborative curriculum designed to help propel business ideas into reality.

“UAB is committed to driving economic prosperity within the region, a key component of which lies in fostering innovation early in the pipeline,” said Kathy Nugent, Ph.D., executive director of the HIIE. “Our goal with the Accelerator program is to create a streamlined pathway from idea to commercialization. Fledging’s move is a significant milestone in the startup’s trajectory and underscores UAB’s efforts to feed the Birmingham innovation ecosystem.”

Based on the success of the student accelerator, the HIIE is launching its first faculty accelerator program, designed to meet the needs of staff and faculty researchers seeking to commercialize their innovations.

“We continue to celebrate the successes of the inaugural Student Accelerator program,” said Max Polec, director of the UAB Commercialization Accelerator. “We’re looking forward to building on those achievements and launching the first faculty-focused accelerator in the fall, along with bringing in a new group of student entrepreneurs through two concurrent programs.”

The first cohort in the UAB Student Accelerator Program provided the foundation to launch two successful startups, with the development of five others. Fledging, along with Vector Applications, LLC, formed as a result of the program. An additional two startups, Ceres and Sniper Digital Marketing, are planning to incorporate in the near future.

“The Student Accelerator program cultivates the entrepreneurial spirit on campus, enabling student founders to turn their ideas into profit-earning companies,” Tan added. “Such endeavors have been longed for by students for years. The vision of this program will impact the entire student body and the startup community for years to come.”

The fall Accelerator programs run September through November. Any UAB student, staff or faculty innovator interested in participating can sign up here.

Innovation Depot offers workstations, immersive educational programming and incubation services, and provides a competitive advantage in attracting customers, talent, mentors, press and funding to grow a startup business.

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