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Student Startups Win over $150,000 at Emerging Talk
Student start-ups won a combined $153,000 in seed funding at the third annual Emerging Talk conference on April 11 and 12. Emerging Talk was a weekend full of inspiring Power Chats by local and national entrepreneurs, a keynote by “Shark Tank”’s Kevin Harrington, four seed funding competitions and Demo Alley, where students showcased their ventures.
Over 250 students, entrepreneurs, investors and community members came to Revolutions in Destiny USA to be inspired, network with like-minded individuals and tap into the thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Central New York. Emerging Talk was organized by the RvD IDEA office at Syracuse University, an office out of Academic Affairs devoted to exposing all University students to entrepreneurship.
“Emerging Talk was intended to provide a space for the entrepreneurs in Central New York to meet, learn about each other and network,” says Tony Kershaw, assistant director of the RvD IDEA. “I left Revolutions at midnight and there were still a lot of people there networking and making connections, which was exactly our goal.”
On Saturday, over 200 students, entrepreneurs, investors and community members came to the Whitman School of Management to watch students pitch in several competitions, display their businesses and ideas at Demo Alley and win seed funding to take their ventures to the next level.
The Raymond von Dran (RvD) IDEA Awards competition has provided seed funding to help student entrepreneurs launch their ventures since 2009. The RvD IDEA Awards are funded, in part, by the RvD Fund in the iSchool. The fund was named after the late iSchool dean, Raymond von Dran.
“Ray [von Dran] was an academic entrepreneur and, like the student entrepreneurs, embodied the ‘can-do spirit,’” says Gisela von Dran, professor emeritus at the iSchool and benefactor of the RvD IDEA Awards. “The students’ drive to bring about change through new ideas, innovations, products and services–and their determination and hard work–makes them stand out as role models. I am proud to support their endeavors and to keep their talent here in Central New York.”
The Panasci Business Plan Competition is a Syracuse University campus-wide student business plan competition, hosted by the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship, and made possible by long-time Whitman supporter the late Henry A. Panasci, founder of Fay’s Drugs.
The College of Engineering and Computer Science’s Invention & Creativity Competition offers students the opportunity to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors and encourages students to leverage their education in science and technology to bring their ideas to fruition. This competition was open to any Syracuse University team consisting of at least one College of Engineering and Computer Science student.
The student teams were composed of an interdisciplinary mix of talent and a diverse range of majors, including civil, mechanical, electrical and bioengineering, political science, finance, fashion design, information management and public relations. Funding is awarded to student companies to cover start-up expenses, including salaries of company owners and employees, space rental, marketing, legal, website and proof-of-concept development.
“The funding we received is critical to our current stage of product development and will allow us to bring the company to the next level of market deployment,” says James Shomar, CEO of Solstice Power. “The funding from the RvD IDEA will allow us to purchase the materials, equipment, product testing time, patent filing, consultants and marketing expenses crucial to our success. We can now cross the next milestone necessary to build a renewable energy system and reduce the enormous financial burden in energy costs plagued upon many of the most vital components of our society.”
“The generous RvD Idea Award will help us pull the curtain up on our show,” says Gabrielle Kroner, founder of Yellow Brick Actors. “With the funding, Yellow Brick Actors has a solid financial footing moving forward in our outreach programs come May. Being supported through this award and the great people who make the event happen, Yellow Brick Actors will continue to reach over 500 patients and help families within the Upstate New York area heal through the power of drama and play.”
Twenty-seven student teams took part in Demo Alley, where they had the opportunity to talk about their venture with investors, faculty, students and community members. OPENLift, LLC won $500 for Best Display.
“The RvD IDEA Award will allow our company to start building a prototype of our biosensor,” say David Pierre and Corey Jackson, co-founders of ElectroChem Tracking. “We will be able to purchase materials and software to test the biosensor as we move closer to having a tangible product to show potential investors. The feedback from IDEA staff and mentors from across the University were extremely helpful in pushing us to develop our idea further.”
Emerging Talk was also the site for the New York State Business Plan Competition regionals. The companies listed below denoted with an asterisk have been invited to attend the New York State Business Plan Competition finals in Albany on April 25.
The winning companies are:
Raymond von Dran IDEA Awards
Energy and Sustainability
- Solstice Power*, a supplier of combined heat and power solar technology that provides low-cost heat and electrical energy to customers as a supplement to the utilities or primary source of energy, created by James Shomar (SU, M.S., entrepreneurship) and Griffin Kearney (SU, master’s in mechanical aerospace engineering and applied mathematics), $10,000
- ElectroChem Tracking*, a biosensor that monitors hip implant corrosion levels with the ability to communicate through Bluetooth to an app on a computer or tablet, created by David Pierre (SU, Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering) and Corey Jackson (SU, Ph.D. candidate in the iSchool), $7,500
- KneeDoc*, a diagnostic knee brace accessory for patients recovering from knee-related injuries/surgery, created by Philip Choiniere (SU, biomedical engineering), Nikolay Rodionov (SU, B.S. biomedical engineering/M.B.A. finance and supply chain management), Weston Ryan (SU, biomedical engineering), Anthony Caporizzo (SU, biomedical engineering) and Elliott Russell (SU, biomedical engineering), $3,500
- Automated External Defibrillator, an AED system that will utilize the computing power of a smartphone, created by Elliott Russell (SU, biomedical engineering), Austin Miller (SU, international relations/economics), Kevin Aziz (SU, computer science) and Harlan Toussaint (SU, mechanical engineering), $2,000
- Contact, a device that will allow users to more intuitively communicate kinesthetic information to a computer, created by Benjamin Marggraf (SU, biomedical engineering) and Timothy Meyer (SU, mechanical engineering), $2,000
- Beam-Break*, an electronic device that provides touchscreen capabilities to computers, created by Nick Danyluk (SU, electrical engineering), $1,000
- TOCK*, an anti-social media mobile application that engages users to disengage from their phones, created by Rachel Samples (SU, television-radio-film), Pat McGowan (SU, industrial design), Mike Escalante (SU, computer engineer), Jacquie Greco (SU, master’s, public communications), $7,500
- Compas*, an event management service for student organizations at college campuses, created by Billy Ceskavich (SU, information management and technology, political science), Tom Charles (SU, magazine journalism) and Linda Gorman (SU, public communications), $7,500
- 196abroad, a microblogging service that allows students to connect with other student peers by posting about their own experiences studying abroad, created by Nata Barbosa (SU, information management and technology), $3,500
- Kiem Tech, an app company that makes apps for touchless interfaces, created by Jay Getman (SU, information technology and management) and Alexander Krapf (SU, information management and technology), $3,500
- A+ttendance, a software and hardware solution that allows professors to swipe students in to track attendance, created by Max Matthews (SU, information technology and management), $1,000
- Adventure Filled, a mobile application, a social community and a movement, which connects adventurers with fellow adventurers and outdoor brands, created by Laurie Tewksbury (SU, information technology and management), $1,000
Products and Services
- buildPathways*, a mind-mapping tool for educators and their students, created by Koby Brandstein (SU, Kauffman Entrepreneurship Engagement Fellow), $8,000
- Golden Gear*, which provides fighter’s superior quality training equipment for unmatched protection and performance with the mission of significantly reducing the chance of training injuries, created by Danny Goldberg (SU, information management and technology), $5,000
- MOUNTech, which designs easy-to-use mounts for the field of action sport videography, created by Nate Forer (SU, aerospace engineering), Niel Lewis (SU, aerospace engineering) and Geoff Carr (University of Arizona, physiology), $4,000
- ThunderCakes, a remote location bakery on the Syracuse University campus specializing in custom-order cakes, fundraising for organizations and corporate catering, created by Courtnee Futch (SU, communication and rhetorical studies), $3,000
- Azeer, which focuses specifically on designing chic bras, bathing suits, lingerie and sports bras for women, created by Eileen Bell (SU, finance, entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises) and Paige Chilson (management at High Point University), $3,000
Social and Nonprofit
- Centscere, which makes people more charitable through social media, created by Ian Dickerson (SU, Kauffman Entrepreneurship Engagement Fellow), Frank Taylor (SU, masters, public communications) and Mike Smith (SU ’13), $8,000
- Advlo*, which serves as a community marketplace that empowers locals to upload and offer adventures and allows travelers to search and book these adventures on site, created by Jonathan Maser (SU, marketing, entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises), Jeff Fine (SU, television-radio-film), Shayan Dhanani (SU, computer science), Miguel Sancho (SU, computer science and information technology at Havanah University), Caroline Castro (SU, graphic design) and Willy Smith (SU, arts and sciences), $5,000
- Sweetest Magazine*, the latest female authority on all things fashion and culture, with a feminist twist, created by Taylyn Washington-Harmon (SU, magazine), Guaier Huang (SU, psychology and forensic science), Darriea Clark (SU, magazine journalism), Kimberly Skokin (SU, psychology and neuroscience) and Nisha Stickles (SU, magazine and marketing), $5,000
- Yellow Brick Actors, the first nonprofit pediatric theater program of its kind across the country, created by Gabrielle Kroner (SU, acting), $5,000
- Syracuse Fringe Festival, an annual performing arts festival that gives local and regional artists the opportunity to perform their work in front of audiences, created by Justin Sullivan (SU, arts leadership), $2,000
Panasci Business Plan Competition
$20,000 first place
- Screen-Bridge, which focuses on using social media insights to guide a show’s direction, created by Melanie Witkower (SU, marketing and television- radio-film) and Kate Martin (SU, public communications)
$7,500 second place
$2,500 third place
- Golden Gear
$5,000 Sustainability Enterprise
- El Dorado Energy, Inc., which provides consumers in emerging markets with the gold standard in energy, created by Kiven Pierre (SU, master’s in business administration)
$2,500 Goldberg Prize for Technology and Innovation
- ElectroChem Tracking
Invention and Creativity Competition
- MeowSense, an automated litter box detection system to better aid in the diagnosis and treatment of household cats with diabetes, created by Chris Nagel (SU, bioengineering), Hannah Garner (SU, bioengineering), Brittney Pethel (SU, bioengineering), Alexandria Bonner (SU, bioengineering) and Sean McCauley (SU, bioengineering)
- RocReport, a platform to report civic issues such as broken street lamps, graffiti etc., created by Ricky Laishram (SU, masters in computer science) and Debjit Saha (Rochester Institute of Technology, masters in computer science)
- Bikerules, a bicycle indication device that can be Bluetooth-ed to smartphones when necessary for navigation purposes, created by Ming Tao Wu (SU, master’s in engineering management), Chenchen Shen (SU, master’s in engineering management), Xinyu Wang (SU, master’s in engineering management) and Jason Zhu (SU, master’s in engineering mangement).
- Solstice Power
Most Creative ($300)
Greatest Potential Impact on Sustainability ($300)
- Solstice Power
Most Likely to Succeed ($300)
Best Presentation ($300)
- Beam-Break, an electronic device that provides touchscreen capabilities to computers, created by Nick Danyluk (SU, electrical engineering)
Emerging Talk’s Friday night events were sponsored by 9A, the Gear Factory, Revolutions, SubCat Studios, WonderWorks, Destiny USA and Quartier. The RvD IDEA Awards were sponsored by IDEA, the RvD Fund at the iSchool and the Syracuse Center of Excellence. BiTHouse is providing $5,000 in business development services and consultation to the top winner in the biotech/health care, IT and social enterprise/nonprofit categories of the RvD IDEA Awards.
The Raymond von Dran IDEA provides contacts, resources and funding support for student entrepreneurs at Syracuse University. A list of all RvD IDEA and Invention and Creativity Competition applicants can be found at http://idea.syr.edu/ventures. To learn more about IDEA, email firstname.lastname@example.org.