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Meet the Andrews Launch Accelerator 2022 Cohort

Poole, Entrepreneurial Clinic

The Andrews Launch Accelerator is meant to give NC State founders the opportunity to jumpstart their entrepreneurial journeys. The program gives founders access to funding, human capital, resources and guidance that helps take their startup to the next level. 

This year’s cohort is full of promising ventures that are being run by some of NC State’s best founders. Let’s meet the teams. 

Alan Rosenbaum, member of the Cervu team


Cervu is a company that is working to create an intervaginal device that helps women perform their at-home pelvic floor physical therapy. Cervue was created by a team of three master’s students in the joint biomedical engineering program between NC State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Alan Rosenbaum, a Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (TEC) program student, represents Cervu and is looking forward to his experience in the Andrews Launch Accelerator.

I do some work as a consultant/advisor for early phase companies and that experience just seemed the most interesting and intellectually stimulating for me. I wanted to do it myself. Working in this master’s program, creating technology and device from scratch rather than licensing it out to some other existing company and submitting a provisional patent has been an excellent opportunity for me to get my feet wet and sort of try my hand at entrepreneurship. I view it as a learning experience. This is a great opportunity that I think will pay many dividends throughout the course of my career.

Our goal this summer is to work very closely with a team of engineers to help us build a design that can be manufactured and actually put into patients’ hands. We have spent the last several years creating a variety of different prototypes and, quite frankly, we’ve made dozens of prototypes and changed our design along the way. We look forward to building a more robust version over the course of this summer.

Honestly, the most valuable thing that I think we can get is networking in the community and having people provide guidance who have done this before. You know, we greatly look forward to the mentorship and I think that is equally if not more important than any resources or funding support that we can receive at this early stage one adventure.

Kyle Tomek, founder of DNAli


Slowly but surely the global need for more data storage continues to grow. DNAli aims to answer that call. DNAli uses DNA strands, basically nature’s hard drive, to store digital information in a footprint that can be 100,000x as small as current methods of data storage.

The Founder representing DNAli in the Andrews Launch Accelerator, Kyle Tomek, was born in Michigan where he went to Michigan State for undergraduate studies in human biology and chemical engineering. After graduating, he worked as a fire protection engineer, and eventually earned a PhD at NC State in chemical and biomolecular engineering in 2021, melding his undergraduate studies together. Around that time, he began working on DNA-based data storage in the lab of Albert Keung. As they realized the business potential of this work, they applied to the Andrews Launch Accelerator. 

This project, I suppose. Around 2018-2019, we started realizing that we were able to apply for patents in a space that was brand new. Before that, I had aspirations to be a dentist, had been an engineer for a while and wanted to be an academic. As I continued to progress more through this project, I realized that maybe I’ll go work in an industry for a company that does something similar but realized we could just start a company based on this ourselves.

Our biggest goal during the accelerator is to continue to understand who our customer is. A lot of the conversations we’ve had with potential investors and others lead to people being really excited about the idea. They think- “Wow, this is sci-fi-esque” and we can convince them of this big problem of data storage, but then understanding who the first actual customers are and what their specific needs are is something we’ve struggled with.

The education, and even more so the connections. A lot of things in the business world rely on connections and having a network of people that you can ask questions or get other connections and feedback. Having these interesting conversations where new insights and ideas are generated is something I feel will be facilitated well.

Max Burden, founder of Sovereign Energy

Sovereign Energy

Sovereign Energy is a company with the long term goal of helping create independence from fossil fuels. Currently, that’s being done through it’s involvement in creating electric vehicle charging stations. The founder of this company, Max Burden, graduated from NC State in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science because of his passion for sustainability, and after two years of working in the field saw an opportunity to start Sovereign Energy.

I’ve always been interested in entrepreneurship. I actually had a few small little companies throughout high school and college. Nothing that could be considered full-time, but just part-time things that I like to do. If I wanted to try to start a bigger company, I thought a good time to do it would be before I got married, had children and had a mortgage. Recently, I saw the opportunity and I thought it was good timing with my wife.

We’re looking to raise money. Towards the end of summer, we’ll probably do a more formal seed round and we hope to raise a series A within the next 18 months to two years. I think the accelerator will help us get there by giving us exposure to some relationships in the startup community that would be harder for us to develop otherwise.

All of the different resources that you all are pulling in for us. Accelerator is a great word for it. There are things that we would probably be doing on our own, but they’re happening in a much more structured and accelerated way and that’s very exciting for us. You know, I think I’ve been kind of given a gold star as well by getting the recognition of being in the Accelerator since it’s a pretty competitive program. We’re very happy to be a part of it.

Trevor Ferree, co-founder of TSV analytics

TSV Analytics

Current-day social media management tools are often focused on telling you what just happened, but our next company, TSV Analytics, is focused on telling you what is about to happen on social media. TSV Analytics is a prescriptive social media analytics growth tool designed to help build brands on social media.

The company started after an undergraduate research project conducted in the Poole College, during which they were helping track what conversations were happening on social media about different chemicals being used in paint coatings. After a while, the team saw the applicability of this research elsewhere and started TSV. The team consists of two founders, Trevor Ferree and Aidan McCarthy. Ferree earned a Bachelor of Science in economics with a minor in 2020 while McCarthy received a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a concentration in information technology in 2021.

Ferree: During high school, I would cut people’s lawns and found odd jobs and I started to get that feeling of making my own money by not really having to work for other people. Regardless, I feel like entrepreneurship kind of fell into my lap because of TSV Analytics coming out of this undergraduate research. I wasn’t really seeking out entrepreneurship, but it (TSV Analytics) seemed like a great opportunity to really test the waters and see what it is all about.

McCarthy: I honestly did not expect to go into entrepreneurship, at least not for most of my time in college. Once we started doing research and seeing its success and heard that we should commercialize our project, we decided to pursue it. We’ve just been doing entrepreneurship since.

Ferree: I think our biggest goal during the Andrews Launch Accelerator is to convert our data customers and get feedback to start onboarding new paying clients.

McCarthy: Our biggest goal, as of today, is to get at least 10 recurring monthly paid users on our site. We just launched our redesign yesterday, so we’re working fully on customer acquisition and client onboarding.

McCarthy: We heard about it through NC State since we are both recent graduates. We actually applied to the Andrews Launch Accelerator last year, and looking back, we were way too early and didn’t have enough built out or going on to make full use of the program. Luckily, we got in this year and we’re looking forward to learning all we can.

Ferree: The number one thing I’m most excited about is getting connected with a bunch of NC State entrepreneurs and people that have been down the same path. Being able to chat with Chip Andrews about the problems that we’re facing and having all of his experience, and that of other entrepreneurs in residence or connections that we make, to help us out so we don’t make the same mistakes is what I’m looking forward to.

McCarthy: There’s a lot we can learn in every aspect as we’re both very young and new to this. So getting advice that’s related to our problem but touches on other aspects of business is good because a lot of the time we’re focused on a handful of things and can miss some of the bigger picture stuff.

Zuzu team (from left): Eli Brittain, Zach Potter, David Fine, Mandi Biondi

Zuzu for Kids

Zuzu for kids offers a place for parents to find some of the best activities for their kids to do near them, including information like reviews from other parents, and filters to make sure the experiences are best for them. Before ZuZu, the team was working under Potter Media Group, where they were creating a few different website ideas and products.

Around this time, in 2018-2019, Dr. Zach Potter was putting together lists of kids activities in the areas he was visiting with his own, and it got to a point where other people began asking him for the lists. In April 2020, Dr. Potter, David Fine and Mandi Biondi began working specifically on ZuZu for Kids, and incorporated the company. Today, the company has a few more members helping them with marketing and development.

Potter: I’ve always kind of liked it. I like the challenges and solving different problems in a creative way. And I’m always dissatisfied with the status quo. Even in my other jobs, I’m always trying to find ways to solve problems and fix problems. I feel like this is a really good opportunity to do something like that, solving a problem that I personally needed, and that is helping me and other people like me.

Biondi: My interest in entrepreneurship sort of stemmed more from my parents. I never considered that as a career for myself, but just from my own research, podcasts and things like that, I was like, “Oh, entrepreneurship is actually pretty cool.”

Potter: We want to launch our app, ramp up our marketing and try to dramatically increase our user base, and we want to see if we can start to monetize or formulate a plan that will put us on a clear pathway towards monetizing.

Fine: From a project perspective, I’m focused on two things. One, optimizing the site for SEO, so doing things like logos and creating a blog on the site. The second thing is really building out our analytics so we can learn about how to reach someone with a google ad campaign.

Potter: I’ve also learned a lot during the different experiences. You can read books and things, but learning from real entrepreneurs’ real-world experiences is just incredibly valuable. And also having access to these folks to ask questions if we run into an issue to help avoid major pitfalls, to me, is one of the key aspects of steering a new startup in the right direction.

Biondi: I think the most exciting thing so far has been meeting mentors and other people in startups. We’re getting lots of advice and feedback from people who’ve done it or are interested in it. I think that the feedback has been helpful so far and it’s really just exciting meeting lots of cool people.

Fine: I’m excited about the benefits like the Cloud Credits and the funding. It’s all extremely helpful. But the other thing I’m most excited about is getting the connection to the people. Haley Huie has already been hooking us up with people and it’s been super valuable. This is stuff we can’t get anywhere else since none of us are super plugged into the entrepreneurship scene in Raleigh.

Biondi: Honestly, I was shocked. You know, this is just an idea that we’ve had as a small team, but getting that third-party validation for your concept gives you a lot of confidence, and also a lot of motivation.