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College students in the business of social change

As part of Queen City Forward’s ImpactU college residency incubator, students met with members of Charlotte’s media community on July 24 to discuss how to turn their ventures into good story ideas.
As part of Queen City Forward’s ImpactU college residency incubator, students met with members of Charlotte’s media community on July 24 to discuss how to turn their ventures into good story ideas. ImpactU

It's go-time tonight for eight college students participating in ImpactU, an accelerator program for college entrepreneurs. Following their ten-week program, they’ll have five minutes to pitch their business models to the start-up community during ImpactU Demo Day at UNC Charlotte Center City.

This is the third class of ImpactU, a program through social entrepreneurship hub Queen City Forward. Tonight’s free event runs 5-8 p.m. Learn more at queencityforward.org/programs/impactu/.

Here's a quick look at the class of 2015's participants, schools and projects:

UChef, from Mary Guin of Johnson & Wales University: For serious home cooks who want to know the whys and hows of cooking. Each month, UChef members receive a complete lesson plan and unique ingredients centered on the same principles taught in culinary schools such as fresh pasta making, soups and stocks, artisan breads and more.

Vuepeer, from Alex Smolen of University of South Carolina: One of the largest problems in the sharing economy is trust during the transaction. This platform under development would display a users’ ratings, reviews and listings from different sharing economy marketplaces.

Terraoak, from Max Chinnah and Godwin Attigah of Wartburg College: The team developed a solar-powered cooker that also stores additional power in a battery, allowing the cooker to be used at any time. Terraoak focuses on providing clean and renewable energy solutions.

Wiphala, from Jared Burris of University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Peter Rossi of Davidson College: This venture develops and manufactures llama fleece-based insulation, then sells it to apparel and bedding brands, retailers and manufacturers. This sustainable product can also increase Peruvian- or Bolivian- llama ranchers' livelihoods.

The Learning Tree, from Megan McLean of Johnson C. Smith University: A tutorial and enrichment program in Queens, New York -- and potentially in Charlotte-Mecklenburg -- that provides reduced cost or free academic tutorial services to students in grades 1-9 from low-income families and culturally diverse backgrounds.

Pantrea, from Brooke Brazer of Davidson College: This multifaceted platform connects young women with certified Teen Life Coaches. The goal is to empower and inspire young women by helping build their self-esteem, support their aspirations and foster their personal development.

Smith: 704-358-5087; Twitter: @celestesmithobs.

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