Ideas for liquid cooling tech for PC gamers and a socially responsible real estate investment company helped two UCF alumni earn grant funding and the opportunity to workshop their startups in an eight-week entrepreneurship fellowship.
Abhishek Sastri ’20 with FLUIX LLC and Ishmam Ahmed ’19 with Emerald Partners are two of 50 awardees accepted into the LaunchPad Summer Startup Fellowship. They beat out hundreds of submissions to earn mentorship and business development opportunities in addition to a $5,000 grant.
“Overall, this was a great showing by UCF,” said Dr. Cameron Ford, Director of the UCF Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. “We were among the top schools with respect to the number applicants and fellowship winners. It’s exciting to see so many student entrepreneurs continuing to work on their ventures during these challenging times.”
A recent Aerospace Engineering graduate, Abhishek Sastri founded FLUIX LLC to create a computer case that provides advanced liquid-cooling technologies for the PC gaming industry. Sastri leveraged the subject matter expertise of co-founder Eduardo Castillo, a Ph.D. student at UCF’s College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL), to offer state-of-the-art PC cases to consumers without the high learning curve required to assemble complicated parts.
“I want the freedom to design innovative solutions that make people happy and provide opportunities for others,” Sastri said. “I find this process liberating and therefore I find myself being an entrepreneur. It’s not just the freedom, but also the great responsibility of being a leader and an agent of change for the better that keeps me going.”
Integrated Business alumnus Ishmam Ahmed sought to create an ethically and socially responsible real estate investment company that also adheres to Islamic principles – referred to as halal. He founded Emerald Partners to give investors options to fund initiatives that make positive impacts and solve societal problems. Ahmed hopes to expand into healthcare and alternative investments as further opportunities are identified.
“Being Muslim, I had limited options when it came to investing that fit both my faith and financial goals,” Ahmed said. “I also realized that people outside my faith wanted to have options where their money made an impact to not just their wallets, but to the communities and people affected by their investments.”
In this eight-week fellowship hosted by The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars, participants will work on advancing their start-up companies. The fellowship is largely self-driven but will include weekly reporting requirements, webinars and a final report. The Fellowship is open to all current students and recent graduates in the LaunchPad Network.
“Seeing these results provides me with a ray of optimism cutting through the problems we’re currently facing together,” Ford said. “It couldn’t have come at a better time.”