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$35,000 Awarded in UB Entrepreneurship Competition

Additional $10,000 in business services will go to winning team

By Jacqueline Ghosen

Release Date: May 3, 2012

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Panasci TEC winners (from right) Matthew Epstein and Andrew Cassetti are congratulated by Arjang Assad, dean, UB School of Management, and Robert Genco, vice provost, UB STOR.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- More than $45,000 in seed funding and in-kind business services was awarded to the top two teams in the University at Buffalo's Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition (Panasci TEC).

UB School of Management students Matthew Epstein of Great Neck and Andrew Cassetti of Rochester won first place for their business, AppVue LLC.

AppVue is an app that helps users improve their smartphone experience by allowing them to see what apps their friends are using and how they are using them. With the vast and growing number of applications available, AppVue helps users determine which apps are relevant to their needs. AppVue is a service in itself, but it can be used with Facebook to enhance the service.

"The Panasci TEC competition gave us the confidence and ability to present our ideas professionally and cohesively," said Epstein. He and Cassetti were contenders in the 2011 competition but did not win.

"We got great feedback from some distinguished judges and others, and we used the lessons learned to get investors," he says.

Now in its 12th year, Panasci TEC awards seed money and business services to the team that presents the best plan for launch of a viable new business. Eleven local ventures have been launched with first-place prize money since the UB competition began, and most are still in business.

In addition to the $25,000 in start-up funding, the winning team will receive in-kind awards for legal services from Jaeckle Fleischmann & Mugel LLP, accounting services from Kopin & Co. P.C., human resource start-up services from the People Plan by HR Foundations Inc. and office space from North Forest Office Space, bringing the total package to more than $35,000.

Alex Chaplin of Woodmere and Max Ringelheim of Atlantic Beach took second place with an award of $10,000 for their business plan, Vonvo, a social media platform dedicated to real-time idea sharing for news.

The competition was created by the UB School of Management and the UB Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach, and is funded with a $1 million endowment from the late Henry A. Panasci Jr. to facilitate and promote the commercialization of UB-generated technologies.

Nineteen teams entered the competition, and five teams were chosen, based on the content of their written business proposals, to present their business plans publicly in the competition's final round on May 2 at UB's Center for Tomorrow.

Each team delivered a 10-minute presentation and was evaluated on how well they described the feasibility and marketability of their venture, proved the need for their product or service and presented potential sources of capital.

Other new venture ideas included a payment system that facilitates the repayment of trade credit between suppliers and online retailers, a company that provides companies with studies on consumer behavior using neurological techniques, and a service that delivers innovative and real-time solutions for students and instructors.

Serving as judges for the competition were Robert H. Fritzinger, director, SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator; Marnie LaVigne, UB associate vice president for economic development; Mel E. Passarelli, vice president of North American operations, Attunity Inc.; Brian Pearson, president, Valuation Advisors LLC; and Alan Zdon, owner, iCraveit.com LLC.

The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report and The Wall Street Journal for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit http://mgt.buffalo.edu.