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Tuesday, January 25, 2022
<p>Andrew Birkett</p>

Andrew Birkett

Students will hand their resumes to startup businesses today in the hopes of landing a summer internship.

UF’s Career Resource Center is partnering with the Entrepreneurship Club to host the second Startup Job and Internship Fair from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Reitz Union Breezeway. The fair serves to help students network with startup company recruiters, said Natalie Morrison, CRC’s assistant director for employer development.

Although the fair will still predominantly feature local startups, representatives from Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa will also be present, she said.

The event is designed for companies five years and younger with no more than 80 employees. The employers are seeking students with entrepreneurial interests, Morrison said.

"Our goal is to keep it local and support the local community," she said.

UF digital arts and sciences sophomore Natalia Pulido said she is hoping to land a part-time job or summer internship.

"Usually in small companies, it’s better for getting experience since they give you a wider range of responsibilities," the 19-year-old said.

***

UF marketing junior Andrew Birkett came up with a themed card game his senior year of high school, but it wasn’t until college when he realized it was a good idea.

Birkett, 20, launched his card-game company, Atheris Games, in his first year of college.

He launched a Kickstarter fundraiser on Thursday night for his new card game, "Cul-De-Sac Conquest." He said he raised $10,000 in 52 hours.

In Cul-De-Sac Conquest, each player’s purpose is to annoy his or her neighbors out of the neighborhood.

His other creation is "Holeshot Heroes," an automotive-themed card game where racers compete against each other. Players can upgrade their cars, sabotage their opponents’ cars and race on different tracks. He said the game has potential investors.

Birkett said it is stressful running his own company as a student.

"But every time I see someone get excited about my game idea, it makes it worth it."

***

UF mechanical engineering senior Adam Silver came up with his company, Simply Ingenious Products, watching his grandmother struggle to get up from her couch. He started it last May.

He said it does exactly what the name describes — making "simply ingenious" products.

"We live around Albert Einstein’s motto to ‘make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler,’" Silver said.

The 22-year-old is working on the final prototype of his first product, the "Stand-A-Roo," which is a foldable, portable and fully adjustable device that fits under couch cushions. It’s arms rise through the gaps of the couch to give the user leverage to help them stand.

Silver said he has invested $15,000 of his own money into it so far and currently has a six-figure investment for a confidential amount of his company. He hasn’t decided if he will take the offer yet.

"Millions of elderly, disabled, pregnant, overweight and rehabilitating persons struggle to get up from their couch daily," Silver said. "This product can really help people."

***

UF industrial engineering senior Sheldon Barrett thought of his company while on a medical leave from college in 2009 after being diagnosed with Stage 2 high blood pressure.

He found drinking fresh coconut water was the best way to combat his symptoms. But he had no way of opening the coconuts in his South Florida yard when his father wasn’t home to use the machete.

Now the 28-year-old founder of Cocovana is manufacturing the "Coconut Twist," a device that opens coconuts like a can opener opens cans. He said it is the first product to open a coconut safely and quickly.

Coconut Twist will retail for $24.99, and he said he hopes it will be sold next to fresh coconuts in grocery stores.

"It’s so empowering to have your own startup and be your own boss."

He said the UF community is full of great contacts, so he would advise students to take advantage of networking.

Andrew Birkett

Adam Silver

Sheldon Barrett

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