UB students win fellowships following business boot camp - The Buffalo News
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UB students win fellowships following business boot camp

Six University at Buffalo students Friday were awarded fellowships providing seed money, incubator space and business advice to help the young entrepreneurs get their startup companies off the ground.

A panel of three investors awarded the Student Entrepreneurship Fellowships after hearing business pitches from a group of 12 students who took part in an intensive, three-week Entrepreneurship Lab, or eLab, that wrapped up Friday.

The winning business ideas, which received $8,000 or $5,000 prizes, include a noise-activated, light-up sticker for laptops, a mobile app that helps students find study partners, and software that paints a clearer picture of the damage caused by natural disasters.

“We expect them all to establish businesses. Even if they fail, the skills they learn will enable them to take their next idea forward,” Martin Casstevens, business formation and commercialization manager for UB’s Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach, said in a statement.

Students had to apply to get into the course, which was open to undergraduate and graduate students and was offered during the winter session.

The eLab course, billed as an entrepreneurial boot camp, was aimed at people who already had a promising business idea but who wanted to learn more about how to bring an innovation to the marketplace.

The 12 students received instruction in polishing their business pitches, figuring out how to find the right market for their ideas and how to better engage their customers, according to the university.

Some of the students ended up working in teams, so the panel of investors heard 10 presentations Friday, said Marcene Robinson, a UB spokesman.

The winning ideas are:

• Emviss, short for Electromagnetic Vibration Isolation and Stabilization System, a manufacturer of electromagnetic devices for use in hospitals and research centers, founded by Hosein Kerdar, a civil engineering doctoral student, which earned $8,000.

• WeStudy, the app that helps students find study partners or tutors, founded by Vitchel Toussaint, a senior psychology major, $8,000.

• Stickerlight, the luminescent laptop sticker popular with DJs, created by Michael Sparks, an MBA student, $5,000.

• B2Y Education, which develops marketing programs for young people, founded by April LoTempio, an MBA student, $5,000.

• Earth Risk Systems, the natural-disaster software, developed by Elena Ramona Stefanescu, a mechanical engineering doctoral candidate, $5,000.

• E-Bridge, a mobile app that founder Eric Kishel didn’t want to describe in detail for fear of having the idea poached, $5,000.

In addition to the seed money, the fellows also receive shared space in the UB Technology Incubator and access to business and legal advice and other professional services.

Some of the companies are further along than others. For example, the WeStudy app is available in the iTunes and Android app stores and Stickerlight has a modest Web presence.

The eLab course was a joint production of UB’s Entrepreneurship Academy, its School of Management and STOR, which provided the seed money.

Dr. Robert Genco, vice provost for STOR, supervised the course, which was taught by Casstevens and Yong Li, an associate professor of operations management and strategy in the school of management.

It was the first year of the eLab and fellowship program and STOR has enough funding in place to continue to offer them for three more years, Robinson said.

email: swatson@buffnews.com

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