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NC State Poole College Announces 2017 Andrews Launch Accelerator Startup Teams

photo of: Dr. Lewis Sheats, Cortney Cox, David Tillack, Alex Bless and Travis Murray
NC State Entrepreneurship Director Lewis Sheats with 2017-18 Andrews Accelerator team members Cortney Cox, David Tillack, Alex Bless and Travis Murray

The North Carolina State University Poole College of Management announces the three startup teams selected to receive $20,000 each as NC State Acceleration Fund recipients and to participate in the NC State Andrews Launch Accelerator, which takes place in June through August 2017. This is the second year the funds have been distributed through this program.

“The primary goal of the Accelerator is to move the teams to launch and fundraising, if necessary. After launch, we work on growing the company through sales,” said Lewis Sheats, Poole College associate professor of practice and executive director of the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic which is part of Poole College’s entrepreneurship curriculum. Sheats manages the Andrews Accelerator program.

“We’re focused on stimulating entrepreneurial thinkers to frame potential ventures that are ambitious, well-constructed and compelling. At this early stage they usually haven’t effectively tested their business model with the appropriate targeted customer markets. They have organizational issues for a new startup, and they don’t have meaningful presentations developed for potential customers, investors or lenders. The grants and the accelerator are designed to leverage their talents and their concepts so they may move on to actually launch a startup,” said Robert “Chip” F. Andrews III, who with his wife Lyn established NC State Andrews Launch Accelerator to provide solid support for budding student entrepreneurs.

Following are the 2017 NC State Andrews Launch Accelerator start-ups and their team members. All are recent graduates or completing undergraduate degree programs in NC State’s College of Engineering, Poole College of Management or College of Sciences.

Simplify Cosmetics

photo of Cortney Cox
Cortney Cox

Simplify Cosmetics was started by Cortney Cox, a new Poole College alumna who graduated in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a concentration in entrepreneurship.

Her first product is Simplifeye, a solution that makes it easier to apply eye liner in the popular cat eye style. That also was the initial name of her startup. The new name reflects Cox’s goals for her company: to develop a brand and line of products that will help women with their daily beauty routine and support female empowerment.

Cox is originally from Tewksbury, N.J.



photo of David Tillack
David Tillack

AssureWear, originally named SnapSafe, was started by a team of students in the NC State College of Engineering and College of Sciences. This team is in the process of developing a suite of personal safety products, the first being a wearable band that when activated will alert emergency services of the wearer’s location and that the wearer needs assistance.

Team members are David Tillack, a rising senior majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in business administration and concentration in entrepreneurship; Brendan Boyle, a rising junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences who also is an EMT and an avid coder; and Stephen Scheuerle, a rising senior majoring in aerospace engineering.

Tillack is from Raleigh, N.C.; Boyle, Woodbury, Minn.; and Scheuerle, Mooresville, N.C.


Travis Murray and Alex Bless

Rhythcor was started by a team of engineering students in the NC State Engineering Entrepreneurs Program. This startup is developing a solution related to the high incidence of heart attack-related deaths among firefighters.

The four initial team members are Travis Murray, bachelor’s in computer engineering and electrical engineering; Jack Dodd, bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and electrical engineering, entering the master’s in computer engineering program; Alex Bless, bachelor’s in mechanical engineering; and Brian Graham, bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. Tyler Murray, a Poole College rising senior in business administration and Travis Murray’s brother, joined the team in 2017.

Travis and Tyler Murray and Alex Bless are from Asheboro, N.C.; Jack Dodd is from Cooleemee, N.C.; Brian Graham is from Huntersville, N.C.

About the Andrews Launch Accelerator

The Andrews Launch Accelerator was established in 2016 with the creation of the NC State Acceleration Fund, through a $1 million seed money donation made by Lyn and Chip Andrews, a 1966 NC State graduate. The fund is designed to accelerate economic development by increasing the propensity of new ventures with NC State connections to survive and grow through equity-free grants. Teams that complete the Andrews Launch Accelerator receive up to $50,000 and pro bono support services for the entrepreneurs which focus on customer discovery, market research and validation, financial planning, legal planning, pitching, and launch strategy. Lewis Sheats, Poole College professor of practice and director of the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic which is part of Poole College’s entrepreneurship curriculum, manages this program. Read more about the Andrews Launch Accelerator and prior participants.