ATLANTA, February 16, 2021 — Forty-nine promising small businesses are now part of the 2021 Start:ME Accelerator, a free, intensive three month business training program from the Goizueta Business School for promising ventures in the metro-Atlanta communities of East Lake, Clarkston and Southside Atlanta.

The Start:ME program operates within communities, drawing talented entrepreneurs who live in, work in, and/or provide valuable products and services to the community. During the 12 sessions, and well beyond, Start:ME connects those entrepreneurs to the business know-how, networks, and capital needed to build and develop sustainable businesses. This year, the sessions are being held virtually but will continue to provide essential information and mentors to help entrepreneurs and their businesses reach their full potential.

“Microbusinesses are the life blood of our communities in so many ways, serving local needs, creating local jobs, and occupying local spaces,” says Erin Igleheart, Start:ME Program Director. “This past year has really underscored how essential they are in our lives, and how much we benefit from their success. We’re thrilled to work with so many fascinating ventures, and the people operating them, this Winter– companies offering diverse children’s books to forest schools, furniture repair to custom apparel, wood carving to social action fundraising.”

Ventures in the 2021 cohort operate nine brick and mortar locations and generate over $400K in annual revenues. Of the 49 businesses:

  • 84% of ventures are female-led
  • 82% of ventures are led by people of color
  • 24% of ventures are led by foreign born entrepreneurs 

Each of the three communities offer peer-selected grant pools of $10,000 to help the most promising businesses start or scale. Through 2020, Start:ME has supported 257 local businesses accounting for more than 550 jobs. Of those, 30 have brick and mortar locations. The program has peer-selected 68 ventures to receive more than $250,000 in startup capital.

The program is developed and delivered by Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in partnership with the East Lake Foundation (East Lake), Friends of Refugees (Clarkston), Focused Community Strategies (Southside), and Purpose Built Schools Atlanta (Southside).

The 2021 cohort was selected from a pool of more than 200 applications.

Clarkston Participants

  • Aleppo Kitchen – Provides full service Syrian catering as well as packaged traditional foods and sweets.
  • Alma Bakery – Sells traditional baked goods of Kazakhstan.
  • Ariana Wood Carving – Creates handmade, custom wood carvings.
  • DrDesha – A brand development firm. 
  • Eco Earth Essentials – Supplies environmentally sustainable product alternatives to reduce single-use plastics.
  • Gushi Handmade – Creates jewelry inspired by the civilization of Mesopotamia combined with modern designs.
  • Louise and Julia – A resale and consignment clothing and accessory company. 
  • Marjan Bridal Services – Provides bridal hair and makeup services.
  • Natural Hairology – Provides protective or natural hair care services. 
  • Obadiyahs Boutique – Sells African-inspired fashion and accessories for women. 
  • Read 4 Unity – A subscription box service of children’s books specifically written by BIPOC authors.
  • Sara’s Cooking – Specializes in Egyptian cuisine.
  • Sunrise Cooperative Preschool – A childcare center for children in an effort to allow teenage mothers to stay in school.
  • The Grace Box – A subscription company that helps people to navigate grief each month.
  • The Learning Equity – Provides process and service improvement training to business. 
  • The Profile Package Store – A service and media production company. 
  • Two Fish Myanmar Cuisine – Sells traditional food of Myanmar.
  • Whachikoss Media Production – Specializes in graphic design and video production. 

East Lake Participants

  • Atlanta Forest SchoolOffers nature experiences for young people based on the principles of “forest school.” 
  • Beaute by Bri – A full service skincare and makeup brand. 
  • Car Key Auto Sales – Sells quality vehicles and parts. 
  • Community & Family Engagement Consultant – Researches community and family engagement opportunities in order to secure additional funding to public schools.
  • Empire Arts Gallery – A women-owned fine arts gallery and tattoo studio.
  • Kay’s Cookery – Sells food products with ingredients that are locally sourced and high quality. 
  • Lovedog – A mobile dog grooming business.
  • Muse Consulting – Provides diversity and inclusion training.
  • Myko’s Braiding Therapy – Provides braiding hair services with a variety of synthetic extensions offerings. 
  • Safi Haus – Trains and equips housekeepers to properly clean, stage and restock a vacation rental property. 
  • Scott Doss Wellness – Offers highly skilled injury and sports massage therapy. 
  • Sew Dope – Sells upcycled, recycled, and handmade apparel, handbags and accessories. 
  • Soul’s Core Studio – Offers personal and professional branding and web design services.
  • The Civil Arts – Enables fundraising for Social Action organizations.
  • The Chef Booty – Provides healthy and comforting food to all customers regardless of their dietary needs.
  • TrapHouse Coffee – A coffee shop that combines Atlanta’s trap music culture and coffee. 
  • What’s The Stitch – Creates customized clothing to bring the client’s idea to life. 

Atlanta’s Southside Participants

  • B.O.S.S. Apparel U.S.A clothing line designed to uplift and motivate creatives. 
  • Brand Me Agency & Associates – Premiere brand management, lifestyle marketing, event activation, and product sales agency. 
  • Community Herd – Sells naturally and locally grown products from CSAs. 
  • Dixon Construction Services – Provides upgraded residences, infrastructure and commercial properties. 
  • Fat Kid Gastronomy – Serves chef-driven prepared meals that offer globally inspired menus.
  • I Got U Foods – Turns local farm fresh produce that farms have an overabundance of or are considered ugly into salsa, seasonings, teas and canned products. 
  • JAS – Creates handcrafted skin care products using natural and organic ingredients. 
  • Jo David Design Studio – A luxury women’s and children’s apparel brand.
  • Kwamination – Provides animation and graphic design services.
  • On the Rocks Gourmet Jams – Sells a variety of delicious jams and baked goods. 
  • Rae of Light Educational Services – Offers custom lessons, academic strategies, and intervention to combat academic challenges. 
  • Restoration Hero – Provides furniture repair services.
  • The Bubble Pitt – A laundry business offering wash and fold services. 
  • Zumbido Atlanta – Sells a curated selection of fair and direct trade home goods, accessories, and crystals. 

Start:ME also engages 75+ volunteer mentors with significant professional business and/or entrepreneurial experience to provide coaching support for entrepreneurs participating in the program.

Visit for more information.

About Goizueta Business School

Emory University’s Goizueta Business School believes that business schools need to do more than simply train the workforce. Goizueta goes beyond class work and research to be of service in the boardroom and on Main Street. Together with our partners, we build ecosystems, support small businesses, and strengthen local communities. Start:ME is made possible through the generous support of signature supporter Regions Foundation along with champion supporters Emory University, The Goizueta Foundation, the PNC Foundation, SunTrust Foundation and Target Brands, Inc. and alumni supporters Atlantic Capital Bank and Delta Community Credit Union.

About Start:ME Clarkston

Goizueta Business School works with Friends of Refugees and a local coalition of partners to support entrepreneurs in Clarkston, GA. The Clarkston program has graduated 115 ventures since 2013.

About Start:ME East Lake

Goizueta Business School works with the East Lake Foundation and a local coalition of partners to support entrepreneurs in the East Lake, Edgewood and Kirkwood communities of Atlanta. The East Lake program has graduated 93 ventures since 2015.

About Start:ME Southside

Goizueta Business School works with Focused Community Strategies (FCS), Purpose Built Schools Atlanta and a local coalition of partners to support entrepreneurs in the Southside of Atlanta. The Southside program has graduated 49 ventures since 2018.

Mitch Leff, Leff & Associates, (404) 861-4769,
Kim Speece, Leff & Associates, (404) 849-6579,