Published May 8, 2018
Hot off its win of the Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition (Panasci TEC), a team of electrical engineering and MBA students took first place on April 27 in the New York Business Plan Competition for its technology that integrates digital sound effects directly into guitars.
Ryan Jaquin and Shane Nolan, both dual electrical engineering and MBA students, and Alex Schwartz, a UB electrical engineering graduate, will receive the grand prize of $20,000 for their company, Bitcrusher.
Bitcrusher is a device for a guitar that allows a user to control digital sound effects right on the instrument, eliminating the need for a large rig of effects pedals a player would traditionally use to achieve different sounds. The Bitcrusher device can be built into new guitars direct from manufacturers or retrofitted into a player’s existing guitar. In addition to the device itself, the entrepreneurs plan to develop a digital store where users can buy and sell sound effects from each other.
“We refined and improved our pitch to make our business plan even easier to communicate, demonstrate our commitment and passion for what we are doing and assert that we are solving an important problem in the music electronics industry,” says Nolan. “This win will help us execute our go-to-market plan, which involves significant patent work on our inventions, technical product development, and product launch and marketing.”
Bitcrusher bested more than 100 other student-led teams from across New York State who pitched their startup ideas through a series of rounds at local competitions in the 10 economic development regions of New York State – Western New York, the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Capital Region, Mid-Hudson, New York City and Long Island. Judges selected the winner based on the company that represents the best investment opportunity.
“After the win at Panasci and now the state competition, we feel like we have a lot of momentum and are making the most of every opportunity that we can find,” says Jaquin. “UB provides us with the tools to be successful and we’re taking full advantage, so after we graduate in a few short weeks we’ll enter the scene ready to develop and release our exciting new technology.”
In addition to participating in the Panasci TEC, the Bitcrusher team has taken advantage of the burgeoning entrepreneurship ecosystem at UB through such innovative opportunities as the Blackstone LaunchPad at UB, a campus-based entrepreneurship program that supports and mentors students, staff and alumni, and the eLab, a hands-on, three-credit course that helps develop skills needed to launch a new venture. Nolan is a past winner of the Bulls Launch Elevator Pitch Competition, where students have 90 seconds to talk about their idea without props, presentations or notecards for a chance to win up to $1,500.