Release Date: August 1, 2012
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," Khan said.
"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 entrepreneurs.
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/