BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Forbes today named a 2011 UB graduate to the
magazine's exclusive list of 2012 All-Star Student Entrepreneurs,
which honors nine young men and women around the country who
launched significant businesses while still in school.
Ansar Khan of Williamsville, who earned a bachelor of science in
biological sciences from UB, was recognized for starting Refulgent
Software, a Buffalo Niagara tech firm that he co-founded with UB
classmate James O'Leary.
The company produces Ambur,
an iPod and iPad app that serves as a restaurant point-of-sale
system. More than 260 clients in 14 countries have purchased the
app, which saves waiters time by enabling them to take orders, send
requests to the kitchen and process credit cards using an iPod.
The Forbes 2012 All-Star Student Entrepreneurs feature is
available online at http://www.forbes.com/special-report/2012/0801_college-entrepreneurs.html
and in the magazine's print version on Aug. 20. The list includes
students from the California Institute of Technology, Yale
University, Harvard University and more.
Based in UB's Technology Incubator in Amherst, Refulgent
Software is already profitable. Annual revenues are in the six
figures, and the company employs nine programmers and salespeople,
eight of whom are UB students or alumni.
"We were happy and very honored to be recognized by Forbes,"
"It's great to have validation of the work we were doing while
we were students at UB," said O'Leary, a business student who is
taking a break from his studies at UB to grow Refulgent. "It was a
lot of work, attending school and starting the company."
O'Leary came up with the idea for Ambur in 2009 while waiting
tables at Kabab and Curry, a restaurant Khan's parents own and
operate in Williamsville.
Tired of trying to decipher his own bad handwriting, O'Leary
began developing an app for digitizing food and drink orders. He
and Khan piloted the system at Kabab and Curry, arming waiters with
iPods that transmitted customers' requests to an iPad that acted as
a restaurant computer.
After some fine-tuning -- including implementing suggestions
from Khan's parents -- Khan and O'Leary launched Refulgent Software
in August 2010 and began selling the app in April 2011.
Today, Ambur is a more robust version of O'Leary's original
creation. Servers can use the app to split checks at the tableside,
and managers can use it to export sales reports in file formats
that QuickBooks and other accounting programs can read.
Clients say the system is affordable and eco-friendly, enabling
restaurants to save time and money by processing orders more
efficiently. Businesses that are using Ambur range from
independent, family-owned restaurants to larger companies, like
Chobani, the yogurt company, which is using Ambur at a store in New
York City, Khan said.
As for future plans, O'Leary and Khan are focusing on growing
their client list and expanding Ambur's features -- all from their
home base in Western New York.
"We have a lot of ties to this area," O'Leary said. "Our
families are here, and UB has been a great pipeline for us, in
terms of providing employees. We're helping to keep the best talent
in the area, and we're really proud of that."
The UB Technology Incubator, which offers special services to
help new businesses get off the ground, is part of the university's
push to commercialize its research and support entrepreneurship in
the region. Other efforts include a catalyst fund to support
research on commercializing faculty inventions, a new biosciences
incubator within UB's new Clinical and Translational Research
Center, and the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, which
supports the growth of existing local businesses.
For students, UB offers the Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology
Entrepreneurship Competition and an entrepreneurship academy that
will debut this fall, giving undergraduates the chance to explore
entrepreneurship through coursework, seminars, networking events
and co-curricular experiences that bring students together with
Can i(Pod) Take Your Order? UB Grad and Former Student Launch
Technology Start-Up to Market Restaurant App: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/13176
About Ambur App: http://amburapp.com/
About the UB Technology Incubator: http://www.research.buffalo.edu/stor/incubator/