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Three entrepreneurs share success stories at StartItUp Conference

StartItUp Conference 2017
Patrick Pickens, a UNG alumnus, talks about his luxury skincare company, HiQ Cosmetics, at the StartItUp Conference on Sept. 19.

The University of North Georgia's (UNG) Mike Cottrell College of Business and the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation hosted the third annual StartItUp Conference on Sept. 19 at the Forsyth Conference Center in Cumming, Georgia.

 Among the attendees were local high school students, business executives, and UNG students, faculty, and staff who gathered to network and hear presentations from three area entrepreneurs. Afterward, audience members participated in a question-and-answer session to gain additional insights from the presenters.

 The three speakers were:

  • Steven Carse, founder of King of Pops, an Atlanta-based boutique ice pop company.
  • Patrick Pickens, a UNG alumnus, co-founder and CEO of HiQ Cosmetics, an all-natural, luxury skincare company.
  • Titania Jordan, chief parent officer of Bark, an internet safety application used by parents to monitor their children’s online activity.


The trio discussed their experiences and hardships, highlighting the important lessons they learned during their entrepreneurship journey.

Carse told the audience about an unexpected challenge when he started King of Pops. Unable to open his first retail location due to issues with the building, he bought a used food cart and started selling his ice pops. This decision, he said, changed the course of his company. His advice: pick a date and do everything you can to have your business operating on that day.

"Don’t try to have everything perfect," Carse said. "Just go to work."

Choosing the right partnerships was another topic discussed by the presenters. Carse noted the benefits of using the strengths of family and friends when creating a business. His brother quit his job as an attorney to help him run King of Pops and their company relies on hiring trustworthy employees to carry out their goal of spreading happiness.

When Patrick Pickens was an undergraduate student at UNG, he met his future business partner, former UNG professor Holly Carpenter. Their shared passion for all-natural products led to the creation of their skincare company, HiQ Cosmetics. Pickens said Carpenter attributes much of her success to the professors who served as mentors during her years in college, both as a student then later as a professor.

"(UNG) taught me about leadership and the importance of creating valuable and strong relationships," Pickens said.

Titania Jordan started her own full-service marketing consultant firm and held different positions in various companies before leading Bark.

Jordan’s passion for technology led her to become a tech innovator. She enjoys mentoring women who are interested in STEM-related fields. Jordan wants women to be more represented in the field and uses her knowledge to help young female entrepreneurs achieve their goals.

"There are a lot of people who have [inspired] me as mentors and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them," Jordan said. “One thing they’ve always asked me to do, to give back to them, is to [inspire] others."

"The StartItUp Conference is a key component in UNG's efforts to develop a thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem,” said Dr.Ruben Boling, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. "The conference enables budding entrepreneurs to gather and meet with their peers, as well as learn through the stories of notable successful businesspeople."

The Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation has introduced a new StartItUp Challenge. This is an opportunity for entrepreneurs at UNG and in the community to present their business ideas to a panel of entrepreneurs with a chance to earn funds and gain exposure. Entrepreneurs wishing to participate in this challenge should apply online.

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