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A summer of success: Emory student founders flourish in The Hatchery Summer Incubator
headshots of Emory University students  Emily Bush, Patrick Latting and Morgan Villar

Student founders (l-r) Emily Bush, Patrick Latting and Morgan Villar were among those who honed their entrepreneurial skills during the inaugural Summer Incubator program with The Hatchery.

“It's the ultimate deep dive into entrepreneurship,” says Morgan Villar, a master of divinity student in Candler School of Theology, describing her experience in The Hatchery Summer Incubator program. Villar, founder of Dignity Homes, continues, “If someone wants to start a company, this is their chance to forgo the typical summer internship and jump off the deep end, knowing you have support.”

Dignity Homes is a nonprofit development firm that builds affordable, rent-to-own, single-family homes and provides programming for the 50% of Atlanta residents who are housing insecure. During the 10-week Summer Incubator session, the Dignity Homes team crafted holistic programming for their future communities and connected with valuable partners, resulting in land grants from multiple entities throughout the Atlanta area.

The Hatchery Summer Incubator not only teaches skills and provides connections for Emory students to start businesses, but the program also makes entrepreneurship more accessible by providing funds that allow students to be full-time entrepreneurs for the summer.

“I wouldn't have been able to work on my venture very much without it,” Patrick Latting, a BBA student in Goizueta Business School, says of the program.

Latting founded BidBee, an online services marketplace that connects event planners and vendors. “I want to successfully start a company,” he says. “I plan on being a career entrepreneur and am excited to get something off the ground as soon as it's feasible. I also view this as a substantial learning experience. If entrepreneurship is my chosen career, I had better study up on it.”

Throughout the program, Latting put in many hours of work at The Hatchery, building relationships with potential customers and planning his go-to-market strategy. He ended the summer with more than 50 customers in his beta test, completed product development and gained new confidence in his ability to build a company. 

Emily Bush of STEPS (Science, Technology, and Early Promotion of Socioemotional Development) made huge strides in the Summer Incubator as well. Bush and her co-founders, Jay Baek and Joy Matsuoka, came up with the idea as Emory College of Arts and Sciences students with strong foundations in STEM-based subjects and a passion for learning and teaching others. They created a seven-week curriculum in collaboration with Emory professors, centered around supporting socioemotional development in pre-kindergarten students through STEM activities. The team piloted their STEPS summer program at the Atlanta Children’s Shelter and will be expanding operations in the fall with a semester-long curriculum in addition to piloting a kindergarten program.

Each venture made significant progress through weekly workshops, one-on-one coaching with The Hatchery staff and mentoring from Atlanta industry leaders. Ten of the 11 ventures officially launched, meaning that the projects have paying customers or have received investment or grant funds.

The inaugural cohort of The Hatchery Summer Incubator concluded in a mock advisory board pitch event. The board, comprised of venture capitalists, industry experts and nonprofit leaders, provided valuable feedback and questions to refine the students’ pitches and their startups.

Updates from the rest of the cohort include:

  • Besties Box, Emory School of Medicine MD students Barbara Biney and Sydni WilliamsA premium monthly subscription box service where customers receive samples of textured hair products. This summer, Besties Box launched its first influencer campaign.
  • DDB Solutions, Shashwat Murarka, 2023 Emory College quantitative science graduate: Navigates last-mile delivery obstacles through visualization. DDB has been invited to two prestigious accelerators.
  • Doste Afghan Foundation, Shakila Ali, Rollins School of Public Health MPH alumna: A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian assistance at the individual level to underserved women, widows, youth and people with disabilities in Afghanistan.
  • florence, Daren Zhang, Emory College biology major: A game-based platform for pediatric oncology patients to combat social isolation and maintain neurological development. The florence team established partnerships with Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to gather feedback and co-design their platform.
  • Queer Health Collaborative (QHC), Noah Mancuso, Laney Graduate School PhD student: A diverse group of LGBTQIA+ health professionals combining lived experiences with public health expertise to improve the health of queer people everywhere. Mancuso grew the QHC team to 10 consultants and has secured more than $55,000 in contracts.
  • SageVR, Yousef Rajeh, Emory College computer science major: An AI-powered, VR-based re-imagining of traditional therapy. The SageVR team currently has 10 beta testers and has secured investment funding for developing their platform.
  • Tapfer, Alissa Cohan, Candler School of Theology master of religious studies student: Partners care seekers with licensed care providers at a 90% match rate. Tapfer successfully raised an investment round this summer.
  • TeamTonic, Helen Hsu, Goizueta Business School business major: A gamified virtual workspace powered by AI. TeamTonic built out the B2C web application, has 50 beta-users and is negotiating with its first B2B clients.

Applications for The Hatchery Incubator 2023-2024 cohort are open until Sept. 5. Students who are interested in learning more about The Hatchery Incubator, can visit the website

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