On Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, We Celebrate the Founders of Carella, Hybridraw, and I AM LIT

The Zahn Innovation Center fosters a community of changemakers. Encouraging young entrepreneurs to explore their creativity through startups has been one of the main focuses of the center. November 19th is Women's Entrepreneurship Day.  A global recognition of women and their contributions to the entrepreneurial community. We are highlighting the founders that achieved outstanding results in the 2022 Zahn Innovation Center Competition -- Carella, Hybridraw, and I AM LIT. Carella and I AM LIT were grand prize winners in the Standard Chartered Women+Tech competition and the Zahn Social Impact competition, respectively. They each were awarded $25,000 to further their business development. Hybridraw, a finalist in the Standard Chartered Women+Tech competition, received $5,000 in funding. Since the competition, they’ve all been busy working on product development.

Carella - Samira Chowdhury, Mehereen Meem and Samia Omar

Website: carella.one Instagram: carellallc Twitter: @carella.one

Carella is an all-in-one search engine for hobbyists seeking the best deals on auto parts! Created by three CCNY college students, Samira Chowdhury, Mehereen Meem and Samia Omar, Carella is bringing technology to the forefront of the automotive industry by empowering car owners to make informative decisions about their car, and help them get connected to the right mechanics and sellers that will give them the best deals. Think of it as the matchmaker between the customer and the auto parts distributors and vendors.

In October, Carella was accepted into the NY I-Corps Hub x Gotham Innovation Gambit Virtual Regional I-Corps, where they will do a deep dive into customer discovery. Mehereen is leading their research efforts. The customer insight data collected will inform the design of Carella’s platform and features.

Starting a business while enrolled in college full time is not easy. It takes a lot of self-motivation and drive to stay focused.  “The idea of being in charge of my own innovative ideas has always driven me to have my own business,” says Samia. 

Samira has a similar thought, “I became an entrepreneur because I wanted to run my own business and have a say in what I want to do and make a larger impact. I have been a tech person for a long time, and this felt like the right step in bringing my knowledge of this field to the next level. I don't think it was something I always intended for but I am very happy to have found the road to entrepreneurship.” 

I AM LIT - Tameka Ridley

Website: officialiamlit.com  Facebook and Instagram: @official.iamlit

After winning two Blackstone LaunchPad competitions and the Zahn Social Impact competition, Tameka Ridley launched I AM LIT that stands for I AM LITERATURE, a mentoring organization that teaches people of color, and underrepresented groups how to write and publish books. It is a platform that connects clients to experienced authors for one-on-one mentoring in writing and publishing with professional publishing packages and guides. 

The founder of I AM LIT, Tameka states ” I became an entrepreneur to inspire people, to honor my ancestors, and to make a meaningful impact in my community through literature. Ridley confirms that I AM LIT is making an impact in New York City by helping people of all ages to write and publish books. With their programs being the most affordable in the market, I AM LIT connects clients to authors who guide them throughout the entire writing and publishing process, and their aim is to make publishing more accessible to everyone.

In the near future, Tameka plans to partner with Lehman College and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women to bring the writing mentorship program to their members. I AM LIT will also celebrate their first client releasing her first book in 2023. When asked for professional advice, Tameka states “ There will always be challenges ahead but embrace them as opportunities to learn and grow from. Persevering is the key to managing a sustainable business and being able to pivot as needed.”


Hybridraw - Ambika Paliwal 

Website: hybridraw.com

Hybridraw is creating non-toxic, biodegradable sanitary pads. Ambika Paliwal, Hybridraw’s founder, has  a master’s degree in Sustainability in Urban Environment from The City College of New York. The idea for Hybridraw came from her concerns for the environmental impact and health issues related to the use of the standard feminine hygiene pads. 

She has been contemplating this for a while. As an adolescent, Ambika developed her own sanitary pads. When she heard about the Zahn Incubator Competition she seized the opportunity to make her dream come true. Ambika has created a prototype and is currently conducting product testing. She wants to make sure her pad is not only safe, but has the best fit and absorption. When asked about making it this far in her journey, Ambika states “It's all about consistency and believing in yourself”. 

Kudos to our founders! If you are interested in supporting these startups, follow them on social media for the latest developments, and opportunities to participate.


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