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Six student startups receive funding


Published January 30, 2014

Earning an "A" at the end of a college course is nice. But $8,000 is even better.

A dozen UB classmates enrolled in Entrepreneurship Lab (eLab), a small business boot camp for students, recently pitched their startups to a panel of local business leaders and investors.

The winners received a Student Entrepreneur Fellowship: $5,000-$8,000 in seed funding, mentorship and shared space in the UB Technology Incubator. While all students did not receive a fellowship, they did finish with three credits toward graduation and invaluable experience.

Stickerlight, a customizable, sound-activated light-up sticker for laptops developed by MBA Michael Sparks, won a $5,000 Student Entrepreneur Fellowship.

eLab is not your traditional course. Open to both undergraduate and graduate students, the class accelerates the startup process for participants who already have promising entrepreneurial ideas. Students spent three weeks during UB’s Winter Session fine-tuning their business pitches, engaging potential customers and sizing up target markets.

Fellows are encouraged to enter the Henry A. Panasci Technology Entrepreneurship Competition, business plan contest sponsored by the School of Management and Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR) that helps fund UB student startups. Panasci winners receive $25,000 in seed funding, business services and office space.

The six Student Entrepreneur Fellowship winners are:

  • WeStudy, a mobile application that connects college students with tutors and their peers for academics, won $8,000. Founded by Vitchel Toussaint, a senior psychology major, the app is available on iOS and Android devices.
  • Emviss, or Electromagnetic Vibration Isolation and Stabilization System, is a manufacturer of electromagnetic devices that provide vibration isolation for high-powered microscopes, cameras and lasers. The startup — which was awarded $8,000 — was founded by Hosein Kerdar, a civil engineering doctoral candidate.
  • Stickerlight is a customizable and sound-activated light-up sticker for laptops. Founded by Michael Sparks, an MBA student, the startup won $5,000.
  • B2Y Education bridges the gap between businesses and youth through engaging marketing programs. April LoTempio, the founder and an MBA student, was awarded $5,000.
  • Earth Risk Systems is software that estimates the risks and damage costs associated with natural disasters. The startup — which won $5,000 — was founded by Elena Ramona Stefanescu, a mechanical engineering doctoral candidate.
  • E-Bridge, a college academics-themed mobile app, was awarded $5,000. The startup was founded by Eric Kishel, a sophomore undecided major.

The course is a joint effort among UB’s School of Management, STOR and the Entrepreneurship Academy.