"Geeks Rock!" Affinity Group Launch Event “Real Entrepreneur Stories: Nightmares and Inspirations”


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Ann Costlow, Bus '90
Sofi's Crepes

In 2000 Costlow a former stockbroker of 16 years, desired a new career following changes to the financial sector. When looking out of her office, Costlow saw the majestic Pride of a Baltimore topsail ship and imagined doing something different with her career. After making an inquiry about vacancies on the Pride of Baltimore, Costlow took a leave of absence from her work as a stockbroker and started as the new cook on the ship. After returning to Baltimore, the newly unemployed Costlow was determined to make a start as an entrepreneur with the concept of crepes, an ordinary food in France but a rarity in America. In 2004, the original Sofi’s Crepes opened in a small location next to the Charles Theater in Baltimore. Since then the business has grown to include franchises and locations in the Women’s Industrial Exchange in Baltimore, Belvedere Square, Annapolis Owings Mills, Fells Point and Severna Park, Md. Currently registered in 20 states, Sofi’s Crepes is ready for nationwide expansion.

Originally from Johnston, Pennsylvania, Costlow studied at the University of Delaware and Johns Hopkins University.

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Fredric Abramson
Fresh Start Science, Inc.

Fredric Abramson combined his background in business, science and technology to create the Fresh Start Science program. His community service activities include the Youth Conservation Corp., policy evaluation for national alcohol programs for DHEW Secretary Califano, Chairing the Maryland Governor's Commission on Worker's Compensation Laws, Chairing the Business Section of the Software Publisher's Association, forming the Damascus Performing Arts Center and the Shining Stars School of Performing Arts, and serving on the Boards of Directors of North Charles Hospital, the MIT Enterprise Forum, and the University of Michigan Alumni Club of DC. He holds a Ph.D. in Human Genetics and Population Planning from the University of Michigan, and his Masters of Management from the Sloan School of Management at MIT where he was an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow. He has his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, his M.S. from the University of Rochester, and his J.D. from the American University College of Law. He is admitted to the practice of law in Maryland and D.C., the United States Patent Office, and the United States Supreme Court. Since 1996, he has been an adjunct professor of Biotechnology at Johns Hopkins University.

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Sarah Hemminger, Engr '02
Chief Executive Officer and Founder
Incentive Mentoring Program

Sarah Hemminger co-founded the Incentive Mentoring Program with her husband Ryan Hemminger in 2004. She has nine years of experience in nonprofit management and expertise in the development, expansion, and replication of innovative, paradigm-shifting models of mentoring. Sarah has a deep understanding of the challenges that face students in successfully completing high school and accessing higher education, as well as the potential for students and volunteers to change not only their own lives but also create a positive and lasting impact on those around them. Sarah was awarded fellowships from Ashoka, Echoing Green Foundation, Open Society Institute, and Albert Schweitzer Fellows Program, which support social entrepreneurs with innovative ideas. In 2010, Sarah received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University for her work on the role of the cerebellum and the primary motor cortex on the time scales of consolidation of motor memory. She received the prestigious Siebel Scholars Award for outstanding work in the field of technology and engineering. Her research was published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neurophysiology, and Cerebral Cortex and she has lectured internationally on her work. She received her undergraduate degree from the Johns Hopkins University in 2002 and prior to pursuing her PhD, she worked as an engineer for Medtronic XOMED. Sarah enjoys ice skating and teaching aerobics.


Melissa Fensterstock, A&S '07
Mikey & Momo and Aromaflage

Melissa Matarese Fensterstock graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2007 with a B.A. in Neuroscience. She then attended The University of Cambridge as an Overseas Trust Scholar, earning a M.Phil in Bioscience Enterprise. Following graduate school Melissa worked in Life Science Strategy consulting and at Stryker, a medical device company. In this time, Melissa was actively working on a drug delivery technology and felt the need to learn more about business and entrepreneurship. She matriculated at Harvard Business School, graduating in 2012 with an MBA. For the past 18 months, Melissa has been working on building a brand around the concept of fragrance with a function. Melissa and husband Michael launched Aromaflage, a botanical fragrance that doubles as insect repellent.  Aromaflage is in over 130 points of distribution including luxury hotels, spas, boutiques, country clubs, and golf courses.


Michael Fensterstock, Bus '14
Mikey & Momo and Aromaflage

Michael is an entrepreneur who, with is wife, is developing a luxury lifestyle company. His first product offering, Aromaflage, a botanical fragrance that doubles as insect repellent, is inspired by the Southeast Asian ritual of using botanical essential oils to naturally repel insects. His key markets are outdoor parties, weddings, and vacation outlets. Michael has been inventing since he was a child and loves innovating and working with people he can bounce ideas off of. Michael was #31 world ranked doubles squash player and is actively involved in StreetSquash, an after-school youth enrichment program that combines academic tutoring with squash instruction, community service, and mentoring. In ~ 9 months on the market, Aromaflage is carried in over 130 retailers across the country including Four Seasons, Nikki Beach, and Relais & Chateax Hotels.

Michael attended Bowdoin College where he played baseball and captained the squash team and has guest lectured at Johns Hopkins University where he recently completed his MBA.

Clarence Wooten, Bus '98
Serial Entrepreneur, Product Architect and Design Junkie

I'm a serial internet entrepreneur who has been creating and building Web startups since 1998. Back then I was co-founder and CEO of ImageCafe.com, the World's first online superstore of pre-fabricated websites for small businesses. ImageCafe was acquired for $23 million by Network Solutions/Verisign 7-months after we launched. Those were the good old days ;-)

In 2006, I founded Groupsite.com, a self-serve SaaS platform for building private, branded communities of interest. At present, Groupsite.com is profitable and powers more than 50,000 branded online communities. Since 2011 (after 6 years as CEO) I've served as Executive Chairman of Groupsite and continue to lead product vision and strategy.

After being an entrepreneur based in Maryland my entire career, in early 2011, I moved to Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley with the goal of doing it bigger and better. In pursuit of this goal, I am currently founder and CEO of Progressly, a SaaS startup due to launch early 2014. Progressly is a tool and a marketplace that delivers "Process Plans for Everyone." We are making the $8B+ Business Process Management (BPM) marketplace simple and accessible for the rest of us. Progressly makes processes visual and repeatable and makes the resulting progress transparent to team members, management and clients.

I'm an occasional angel investor and former early stage venture capitalist at Venturepreneur Partners where I served as co-founding General Partner in 2004. I enjoy advising the management teams of various other early-stage tech startups. I tend to focus on product design, specifically user-experience, which serves as the catalyst behind the development of all of the ventures that I'm involved with.

Other stuff: I've been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Forbes ASAP, and Entrepreneur Magazine and have been a guest on CNNfn and other media outlets. I've also been a TechCrunch Disrupt finalist and my entrepreneurial experiences are the subject of a Babson College case study. I have a B.S. in Business Management from the Johns Hopkins University. I had the good fortune of being recognized as a distinguished alumnus of Johns Hopkins University in 2010. Additionally, I serve on the board of trustees of Philadelphia University and several other non-profit organizations.