Release Date: February 25, 2016
BUFFALO, N.Y. — During the three-week winter session, University at Buffalo students got a crash course in how to turn their big ideas into viable businesses in the Entrepreneurship Lab (eLab).
The eLab is a business boot-camp-style course that gives students from any academic discipline the skills to develop and manage a successful new venture. Students evaluate their ideas throughout the course, learning every step of the startup process and attending guest lectures from entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, consultants and business lawyers.
They also attended a Western New York Venture Association pitch session to network with angel investors, met with 43North competition winners and a Z80 Labs entrepreneur at the Dig co-working space, and even spent some time on the ice at Buffalo RiverWorks, learning to curl while networking and team building.
The course concluded with the Student Entrepreneur Fellowship Competition, where teams pitched their startup ideas to a panel of judges. This year, five teams were selected to each receive a prize of $6,000, a shared space at the UB Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR), mentorship and other professional services.
“The class was full of great ideas,” says course co-instructor Yong Li, associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship in the School of Management. “Our student entrepreneurs showed us they have what it takes to bring a new product or service to market.”
Winners of this year’s Student Entrepreneur Fellowships are:
Naeim Khanjani and Parham Rohani of Buffalo for Infinite Clean Energy (ICE), which generates hydrogen gas from water; Julie Fetzer of Alden, Katherine Czerniejewski of Lancaster and Dana Voll of Clarence for Tinker, which establishes engineering summer camps for high school girls on university campuses.
Also, Ben Sainsbury of Oakville, Ontario, Canada, for Virtual SurgerySIM Inc., which builds virtual reality surgical training simulators; George Sklivanitis of Athens, Greece, for StegoPASS, a system that detects the proximity of a user’s smartphone to his or her computer using ultrasound signals for increased digital security; and SureshKumar Ramaiah of Sivagangai, Tamil Nadu, India, for SpeakAlley, a social network for people who want to learn a new language.
The eLab is offered in partnership by the School of Management and the Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR), with funding provided through an anonymous donation to the School of Management.
The course is taught by Li, along with Robert Genco, vice provost, STOR, and Martin Casstevens, business formation and commercialization manager, STOR.
In the past two years, eLab students have gone on to win UB’s Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition (Panasci TEC), participate as a finalist in the Rise of the Rest competition, complete a successful Kickstarter campaign and receive a grant from the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps program, among other achievements.
The eLab is just one of many entrepreneurship initiatives at UB. In addition to Panasci TEC, the School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership helps area entrepreneurs hone their skills through a variety of programs, and UB’s Entrepreneurship Academy harnesses students’ creative and innovative spirit. And this spring, UB will open the Blackstone Entrepreneurship Launchpad, which will offer a coaching network and entrepreneurial support system to students.