In 1978, Cliff Ensley ’69, ’70, G’71 had an idea to start his own business and just $2,500 to do it. He was used to taking on challenges—there was no stopping him. Growing up, he struggled with a learning disability—at…
PAANI and EcoBamboo Living Take Prizes at ’Cuse Tank Competition
Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries (LaunchPad) awarded the following teams prizes at this year’s ’Cuse Tank entrepreneurial competition, held on Oct. 18 at Bird Library:
- First-place winner–Nikita Chatterjee (Arts and Sciences), representing PAANI, won $7,000. PAANI provides clean water solutions for global health.
- Second-place winner–Justin Diaz (Engineering and Computer Science) representing EcoBamboo Living won $3,000. EcoBamboo Living is a sustainable bamboo construction company.
- Wild-card winners–Patrick Prioletti (iSchool) representing Thinc-hub, a platform to build innovation ecosystems, and Clinton Graham (Engineering and Computer Science) representing FreeSwing Power Source, a portable mobile device to produce electricity. Both of these start-ups won $500 each.
Twenty student teams from eight schools and colleges across campus competed in a “Shark Tank”-style business pitch in front of a panel of judges consisting of Syracuse University parents and successful entrepreneurs. Families were invited to attend this event as part of Family Weekend to experience the entrepreneurial spirit of University innovators.
“It was extremely exciting to win,” said Chatterjee ’20, co-founder of PAANI. “We’ve been working really hard to develop our product and our story, so winning is great validation. We came into the LaunchPad last November and have received tremendous guidance in developing our business. Invent@SU was also instrumental in helping us refine our device, make sure it was novel, build the prototype and take protection precautions by filing the provisional patent. Most of our funding from ’Cuse Tank will be going towards laboratory testing and collecting samples of water directly from India. We also hope to produce full working prototype filters for testing purposes and meet and secure manufacturing partners.”
“I continue to be impressed with the quality and creativity of the University students across campus who make use of the Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library,” said David Seaman, dean of libraries, University librarian and interim dean of the School of Information Studies. “We’re also grateful to the parents who gave their time to work with the Libraries on this competition.”
Other venture teams, led by idea champions, who presented during the competition included:
- Attend Pro, Caleb Obiagwu (Engineering and Computer Science), device for improving maintenance work-flow;
- Bluerem, Noel Chang (Maxwell School), Bluetooth medical diagnostic technology;
- Brief, Nick Barba (Whitman School), weekly friend news briefing;
- CLLCTVE, Kelsey Davis (Whitman/Newhouse), digital platform for brands and creatives;
- E.I Technology LLC, Yuhang Zhang (Whitman School), Asian food lunchbox service;
- Fiat Finance, Sam Hollander (Whitman School), platform solution to student debt;
- Film Junction, Nicole D’Souza (Arts and Sciences), streaming service for independent films;
- Gather, Nolan Kagan (Whitman School), building community over home-cooked meals;
- HAUS, Gokul Beed (VPA), Internet of Things home appliance company;
- Iced, Rachel Kaiser (Whitman School), wearable technology sports apparel;
- LFG, Josh Berenson (Whitman School), fan content digital media platform;
- Mobile Crapper, Spencer Krimsky (Newhouse School), portable environmentally-friendly toilet;
- Modern Solutions, David Fox (College of Law), smart home technology installation service;
- Porta-Splint, Maxwell Boise (iSchool), lightweight, compact, portable splint;
- UniRide, David Kestin (Whitman), mobile transit aggregation platform; and
- Visos, Matt Shumer (Whitman), enterprise-first Virtual Reality toolset.
About the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries:
The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars in Bird Library is Syracuse University’s innovation hub, connecting the entire University’s resource-rich ecosystem with a global network that provides support for aspiring entrepreneurs, inventors and creators. The program serves faculty, staff, students, and alumni across disciplines who are interested in innovation, invention, entrepreneurship, venture creation, and taking ideas from concept to commercialization. The program supports a key pillar of Syracuse University’s Academic Strategic Plan to create an innovation ecosystem across the institution that prepares participants to be trailblazers in an entrepreneurial world.