Published April 7, 2014
Four UB students took first place in the recent Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition (Panasci TEC) for their plan to manufacture an invention that removes problematic vibrations in high-precision devices.
Conor Flynn, JD ’15; Hosein Kerdar, PhD ’14; John Fraczek, JD/MBA ’16; and Travis West, BS ’14, will receive $25,000 in startup funding for their company, EMVISS.
Certain vibrations, even some that are imperceptible to humans, can negatively impact readings on sensitive microscopes or impair the ability to manufacture precision equipment. Existing solutions can muffle the vibrations, but EMVISS has developed a platform that can eliminate them entirely.
Development of the platform was led by Kerdar, who specialized in earthquake engineering for his doctoral degree. He will serve as the company’s president and CEO.
“Creating a successful business requires far more than a great idea,” says Flynn, who served as the team lead for the competition. “It requires a solid plan, a great team and an ability to adapt to fill a market need. The Panasci competition helped us take an innovative, game-changing concept and mold it to fit a business reality. It was instrumental in crystalizing the business concept that will make EMVISS successful in the Buffalo-Niagara region.”
In addition to the $25,000 in seed capital, the winning team will receive in-kind awards valued at more than $27,000 for legal services from Jaeckle Fleischmann & Mugel LLP; accounting services from Kopin & Co. P.C.; business development services from the UB Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR); human resource startup services from the People Plan by HR Foundations Inc.; and office space from North Forest Office Space, bringing the total package to more than $52,000. The remaining nine teams of semifinalists will be offered space in dig, a co-working space in the Thomas R. Beecher Jr. Innovation Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
The second-place award of $10,000 went to Emmanuel Oche, MBA ’14, and Jeffrey Beacham, MBA ’14, for Laundry Box, a drop-off box providing a convenient alternative to doing laundry.
Now in its 14th year, Panasci TEC awards seed money and business services to the team that presents the best plan for launch of a viable new business. Thirteen local ventures have been launched with first-place prize money since the UB competition began, and most are still in business.
The competition was created by the School of Management and STOR. Funded with a $1 million endowment from the late Henry A. Panasci Jr., the program is designed to bring together UB students from science, technology, business and other disciplines to maximize their potential and create viable businesses in Western New York.
Thirty-three entered this year’s competition, and a record 28 made first-round pitches to the preliminary judges. Ten teams of semifinalists were selected from that group to submit a written business plan and a video pitch, 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 April 2.
Each team delivered a 10-minute presentation and was evaluated on how well it described the feasibility and marketability of its venture, proved the need for its product or service, and presented potential sources of capital.
Other new venture ideas included a platform presenting data overlaid on interactive maps, a producer of viruses for research labs and a company that provides prediction and risk assessment services for natural disasters.
Serving as judges for the competition were Robert Fritzinger, director, SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator; Marnie LaVigne, UB associate vice president for economic development,; Brian Pearson, president, Valuation Advisors LLC; Daniel Penberthy, executive vice president, Rand Capital Corp.; Michael Weisman, executive vice president and co-founder of Campus Labs and 2001 Panasci TEC winner; and Alan Zdon, owner, MidnightBox.com and 2005 Panasci TEC winner.