Our Clients

See our interviews with ICD and Epicstar:



ICD Creative Studios

Flahn Manly

Business Beginnings

My name is Flahn Manly. I was born in Monrovia, Liberia, in 1988. I moved to the U.S. in 1998. As a child, I was always the creative type. I loved art, drawing, sketching, etc. In high school, I started printing my own shirts, and my classmates soon took notice. I moved towards freelance t-shirt design and printing in 2005, and have been honing my skills and the ICD clothing brand ever since.

I am a designer with the focus of spreading a positive message to the youth and young adults through clothes. Growing up as a child in Liberia, my dream has always been to live life to the fullest. I live life as if there is no tomorrow, and have come to realize that the life we are blessed with is nothing to be taken for granted - it is something to be cherished. As we pass our world on to the next generation, I ask that we implement the right messages into our communities; I ask that we acknowledge that we all have a dream and they all have the potential to become something. This is how ICD clothing was born.

ICD clothing is the burning desire to inspire and to be inspired. The ability to realize the possibilities that can be achieved when one believes in positivity. The understanding that life is a progression of designs incomplete designs. Together we are artists, inspirers and dreamers. Our yearning for progression, inspiration and growth connects us. Together we build upon our foundations and recreate our talents and ourselves. Together, we, you, and I are Team ICD.

What services did you receive? What were your interactions with our staff like?

My former boss was also an Elmseed client and he referred me to Elmseed when he saw my vision for ICD Creative Studios. I got in touch with Elmseed where Robert, Adam, Julia, and Joyce helped me set up a business plan, marketing plan, and put me in good standing to be approved for an Elmseed loan. They were very hands-on and I appreciated how they really listened to my ideas.

How has your business grown since the loan was disbursed?

Since working with Elmseed, I have gotten much better about my bookkeeping and I’ve seen a steady increase in sales since June. I have a large social media following on Facebook and Instagram. Also, I just released an app. Through these social media outlets, I’ve been getting much more traffic in the stores where customers can actually come in and see the merchandise.

Would you recommend our services to other New Haven small business owners?

Oh yeah, definitely! Just write everything down as far as what you want to do. Come in with a game plan and you’ll get great advice on how to move forward.

Epicstar Dance Challenge

Business Beginnings

Krista, Jamie, and Tracy grew up dancing and competing together, and this became a large part of their high school and college experiences. After graduation, Krista, Jamie, and Tracy found that the energy and fun of dance was something they missed, and that it was something they all wanted to reconnect to. EpicStar Dance Challenge became their way to do just that.

Krista, Jamie, and Tracy had noticed a shift in the competition world. They first found that competitions were being run by people who had no expertise in dance. In addition, there was a declining focus on technique and skill in favor of participation awards. Lastly, the culture of inter-studio friendships and forming bonds with dancers from different teams had been replaced with a cut-throat and competitive environment.

With their strong dance and competition backgrounds, Krista, Jamie, and Tracy knew they could create a competition honoring the values of the dance competitions they had grown up with. They believe that skill and talent are what inspires dancers to work harder in order to truly earn their trophies; with an environment that emphasizes collaboration and support, they could discourage studio and dancer rivalry. Krista, Jamie and Tracy are also able to continue support for dance education through a charity component of EpicStar Dance Challenge.

Why did you come to Elmseed?

Jamie: My two partners and I danced together for fifteen years. For fun, we would go and sit in the audiences of dance competitions and watch. We noticed that the people running the competitions had no expertise in dance. We did. We knew we had an edge in the business but we didn’t know where to start.

What services did you receive? What were your interactions with our staff like?

Tracy: We met with our consultant Nick a few times and he really helped us set up the actual business plan. Nick was instrumental in helping us set up our business fundamentals. Nick helped us with taxes, entities, and logical and legal questions. He helped us narrow our market research and business plan. He helped us create the ground floor of a successful business.

Jamie: We were set up randomly with Nick, our consultant, and could not have been happier with the arrangement. We felt like it was fate. He was absolutely wonderful. He guided us along the way, calling us to double and triple-check things. Today, Nick still checks in on and us and he’s absolutely wonderful. If it weren’t for Nick, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Would you recommend our services to other New Haven small business owners?

Tracy: Yes. I would especially recommend Elmseed if business owners are in a place where they have an idea but aren’t sure how to carry it out.

Jamie: I would highly recommend the services.

Other Clients


Kygge (pronounced Ky-guh) is a real-time mobile app created at Yale that connects students and alumni through proximity-based, university-centric trustworthy networks. Released in 2018, Kygge links members of the Yale Community who share interests and pursuits whether they are on campus or traveling the globe. If an alumnus happens to be nearby, the app allows the user to chat in real time without sharing phone numbers or exact locations. Kygge protects privacy while helping users build connections and enhance ideas with people from a trustworthy network. Kygge engineers serendipity! The natural desire for connections merges with an era of data sharing, and Kygge aims to help users view and keep track of events, people, or places relevant to their interests in their proximity, while synchronizing conversations quickly.

Kygge hopes to reshape the sphere of social media networking in educational institutions, and utilize the alumni network market in a way which makes communication through leveraging interest and affinity groups easier. “We hope to promote an open source platform in tech where trustworthy groups can confidently communicate with each other in an ubiquitous virtual college,” says Kygge.

Kygge has been working with Elmseed since 2015. Elmseed consultants have helped Kygge understand and measure the competitive landscape through timelines, strategy, and metrics, and assist in developing pitches, market plans and entrepreneurial awareness. Elmseed now continues to give voice to the startup through a variety of meetings - from university organizations to marketing firms. Kygge has also collaborated with different consultants through the Client Workshops to view the business from new perspectives, and values Elmseed as an enlightening and engaging partner for progress.

As of now, Kygge is open to only Yale students and alumni, but plans to expand its base to other universities, as well as to businesses, employers, and events. It hopes to bring events hyper-specific to a user's interest straight to the user, and bridge the gap between academia, the professional world, and the social world through a trusted, verified, and transparent platform.

Pita Ziki

When Gasser Badawi first opened the doors of Pitaziki in June of 2014 with his father Khaled, they were hoping to put a fresh face on mediterranean food in New Haven. Nearly three years later, Badawi is able to proudly reflect on how far their business has come.

The father-and-son team had been working together in the restaurant business since 2007, but their journey has not been without some challenges. After closing their first casual dining restaurant Sahara in 2014, the space was re-envisioned as Pitaziki Mediterranean Grill with help from Elmseed staff. Their menu now features traditional mediterranean foods like pita, falafel, and shawarma, served fresh and made to order.

Gasser Badawi, who is a first generation Egyptian-American, grew up in New Haven and is thankful for the opportunity to serve the local community. He first developed the concept for Pitaziki along with his father, who went to culinary school in London. “We wanted to serve authentic Mediterranean food to customers looking for a fresh bite to eat, but who might be short on time,” says Badawi. Building upon this initial idea, Pitaziki soon took shape as a fast-casual restaurant with a build-it-yourself style menu.

Working with Elmseed, Badawi has continued to grow his business and is excited about what the future holds in store. "Every month, we see more and more customers coming through our doors," says Badawi. "Our top priority is reaching new customers in the New Haven area." During these formative years for Pitaziki, he is thankful for the assistance that Elmseed staff has provided, especially in regards to social media growth and business development. He describes Elmseed as a helpful "third hand" in tackling problems and seeking solutions to support Pitaziki's continued growth over the years.


Taiwo Togun is a local entrepreneur with a full time job heading the CS program at Pierrepont, a private K-12 school in Westport. He collaborated with Elmseed consultants Michael and Anna, and he states this experience “has been really instrumental to the success of both of [his] companies, SeqHub and IGoville.

At SeqHub Analytics, he provides innovative data science solutions and strategies to clients, which range from research labs to businesses that “need a dependable team to help optimize their decisions and operations.” Taiwo’s team combines expertise in deep learning and predictive analytics with strong interdisciplinary collaboration to provide solutions with state-of-the-art machine learning techniques.

With Michael’s help, SeqHub constructed a timeline of well-defined, feasible objectives. With Elmseed’s help, Taiwo was able to build an official website, leading to valuable connections. Michael also assisted Taiwo in beginning his next project of extending data science internship opportunities to students.

Taiwo’s second company, IGo, strives to supply customers with sustainable and affordable fashion options while improving eye care for underprivileged Sub-Saharan African children. Through an IGo purchase, customers join its mission: "Buy one. Give One.”

Taiwo worked with Anna, who he describes as a “ball of energy,” to revise the layout of the company website. Furthermore, through Elmseed, he emphasized the non-profit entity of Igo, IGoCorp, which is now officially registered as a 501(c)(3). Anna “helped drive visibility for IGo on campus and adjusted its focus on the right message that resonated with [its] target market.”

Taiwo states, “The excitement, energy, and commitment demonstrated by the Elmseed team I worked with was always contagious, and I appreciated their candor whenever I didn’t meet the aggressive goals we set for ourselves.”