Alumni, senior start company

A new company named Chiral has fused photography, art and fashion. The company began thanks to the Launch Pad at the University of Miami.

Chiral was created by UM alumnus Jay Hirschfeld and senior Trevor Cowan, with some help from alumnus David Learner. The company designs bathing suits from Hirschfeld’s extremely high-resolution, detailed photographs of street art.

Key to the group’s success was the Launch Pad, a department of the Toppel Career Center. The Launch Pad was founded in 2008 to provide tools and guidance to students, faculty and alumni who want to start their own business ventures. Since its creation, the Launch Pad has helped more than 1,500 students develop nearly 50 new companies and create more than 100 new jobs.

The Launch Pad recently become the hub of the White House’s Startup America Partnership and will be duplicated in other schools in five economically distressed areas of the country.

“The expansion will strengthen the ability to link entrepreneurs to resources and help alumni and students create a vast network across the nation, which is the key to entrepreneurial success,” said Susan Amat, executive director of the Launch Pad.

The Launch Pad pairs students with venture coaches who aid the entrepreneurs in launching their businesses. For example, the associate director of the Launch Pad, William Silverman, worked with Chiral during its early stages.

“Their strength is in their technology and in their artwork,” Silverman told the PBS’s “Nightly Business Report” about the new apparel and design company, which was featured on a segment of the show.

Chiral took home the $10,000 grand prize at the UM School of Business’ 2011 Business Plan Competition.

“The biggest part of winning was not even the monetary prize, but the validation that everything we’ve been working so hard to achieve has been worth it,” Hirschfeld said.

Chiral is now working again with the Launch Pad to create a viral buzz around the developing business. This will include building a website, lining up meetings and plans to exhibit their pieces at the 2012 Swim Show in Miami.

“The immediate dream is to get this as many places as we possibly can,” Hirschfeld said to Nightly Business Report. “Ultimately, we want to be a brand that touches every corner, every sort of product that works with a variety of different artists and designers.”

June 14, 2011


Alysha Khan

Online Editor

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.