Monthly Archives

May 2019

By | Innovation, People, Rochester

We Made it Through

Spring 2019! [Part II]

By Ain Center Staff

The mark of a great semester? We had to split up our review post! (You can find Part I here.) We are so grateful to have engaged students, faculty, staff, and community members who aim for constant innovation. We started the semester off with fantastic events and kept that momentum throughout the second half.

e5 Capstone Presentations & Poster Session

In April, we celebrated another year of the e5 Program, a tuition-free fifth year for select students to pursue an entrepreneurial project. Four students completed their e5 year and shared their findings at a presentation session. Here is a summary of their projects:

  • Alexander Abrams ’19 – Working with Mira Agneshwar, Alexander developed UR Next Step, a website to help students prepare for the next step after their senior year.
  • Max Berlin ’19 and Grant O’Brien ’19 – Max and Grant spent their e5 year working on Empire Film and Media Ensemble, a nonprofit designed to perform and record a film music repertoire.
  • John Uchal ’19 – John dedicated his fifth year to analyzing the practices and methods of musical instrument design, and brainstorming ways to leverage technology to improve the creation of these instruments.

Money Matters Workshop

Financials are a fundamental aspect of an entrepreneurial venture. UR alumnus Jack Greco shared tips on how to get started. 

Storytelling Workshop

The ability to share your venture depends greatly on building relationships. EIR and VC Kate Cartini offered advice on how to start.

Martin Babinec Lunch & Lecture

This spring we welcomed Martin Babinec to deliver the Spring 2019 Ain Center Lecture. Martin founded TriNet in 1988, serving as CEO for 20 years and now continues as board director. TriNet’s cloud-based HR services cover 17,000+ clients and generate $4B+ annual revenue. Martin is a champion for entrepreneurship and economic development in upstate New York, where he serves as Managing Director of UpVentures Capital, Founder/Chairman of Upstate Venture Connect, and Co-Founder/Chairman of StartFast Venture Accelerator. Martin’s background garnered excitement on and off-campus – more than 70 individuals attended his talk.

In addition to the traditional lecture, Martin and his colleague Phil Levinson (VP and Head of Marketing for EdCast) also spoke during an informal networking lunch. Members of the entrepreneurship faculty, the Simon School Venture Capital Fund, Simon Entrepreneurs Association, the Ain Team, and other guests joined Martin and Phil t0 discuss the nature of investing and entrepreneurship.

New York Business Plan Competition

Hosted on the UR River Campus, the New York Business Plan Competition Finger Lakes Regional Contest was held on April 10. Twenty-six student teams represented seven universities to vie for spots in the statewide finals. Three University of Rochester teams advanced to the Albany round and two of those took home top prizes on April 26. Our advancing teams were:

  • First Place in MedTech & Well-Being ($10,000 Cash Prize): Successful Heart Solutions – Vincent Costantino ’19S (MBA), Joseph Geiger ’19S (MBA), Yangyang Shao ’19 (MS) and Jonathan Yakubov ’19 (MS)
  • Second Place in MedTech & Well-Being ($2,500 Cash Prize): StrongBrain – Max Sims ’16 (BA and BS), ’19S (MBA)
  • Finalist in Technology & Entertainment: MyStohos – Arjun Arora ’19S (MBA), Steven Chew ’19S (MBA) and Michael Gounalakis ’18S (MS)
2019 Forbes Entrepreneurial Competition

A record-breaking 14 teams applied to the 2019 Charles and Janet Forbes Entrepreneurial Competition, designed to encourage undergrad engineering students to consider commercializing their research. This year, the five top teams were able to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, including Ann Forbes ’75, Teddy Bradford, John Diehl, Annette Dunn, and Dean Faklis. Our 2019 winners are:

  • First Place ($5,000 Cash Prize): EZ Water – Afnan Ahmed ’21, Sara Anis ’20, Syed Muhammad Miqdad ’19, Claude Mulindi ’22, and Derrick Murekezi ’19
  • Second Place ($2,500 Cash Prize): WetWare Systems – Nicholas Drogo ’19, Andrew Kaseman ’21, Scott McKinney ’21, Oliver Ostriker ’19, and Bradley Smith ’20
  • Third Place ($1,000 Cash Prize): HORN Empowers – Terrikia Benjamin ’20, Emmanuel Gweamee ’20, and Aime Laurent Twizerimana ’20
2019 Mark Ain Business Plan Competition

Like the Forbes Competition, the 2019 Mark Ain Business Model Competition also received a record number of applicants. Out of 33 teams from across the University, just 10 were chosen to pitch during the semi-final round on May 2. Judges Annie Fitzpatrick Post ’06S (MBA), Jan Kamish, and Mike Kamish ’86 (MS) selected five teams to compete in the final round.

On May 15, those final five were given 10 minutes to share their idea with our distinguished judges, Mark Ain ’67S (MBA), Al Chesonis, Debora LaBudde ’92, ’93S (MBA), and Brennan Mulcahey ’09, ’11S (MBA).

  • First Place ($10,000 Cash Prize and Student Incubator Spot): Successful Heart Solutions – Vinny Costantino ’19 (MBA), Joe Geiger ’19 (MBA), Yangyang Shao ’19 (MS), and Jonathan Yakubov ’19 (MS)
  • Second Place ($2,500 Cash Prize): StrongBrain – Max Sims ’16 (BA and BS), ’19 (MBA)
  • Third Place ($1,000 Cash Prize): MyStohos – Arjun Arora ’19 (MBA) and Steven Chew ’19 (MBA)

We won’t be posting eLaunch content over the summer months, but we’ll be back with more stories, recaps, and student experiences in fall 2019. For now, we’re off to strike up new connections and strive for entrepreneurship programming ever better.

By | Innovation, People, Rochester

We Made it Through

Spring 2019!

By Ain Center Staff

Spring 2019 had a recurring theme: no one can build anything alone. Entrepreneurs need a solid team behind them every step of the way, as evidenced throughout our workshops, lectures, and competitions. In case you missed anything, below is a summary of some events we hosted or co-hosted this semester.

Monthly Faculty & Staff Luncheons

Each month, the Ain Center hosts a luncheon open to faculty and staff from throughout the University. These lunches provide insight into the Rochester entrepreneurial ecosystem and allow everyone with an interest in innovation to meet up on a regular basis. This spring we learned about Eastman offerings in music entrepreneurship, the importance of work space and the future of co-working via the Evelo Agency, resources available through Upstate Venture Connect, and RIT’s Accelerator program, where two of our student teams will be in residence this summer. We’d also like to thank our speakers: James Doser, Rachel Roberts, Joseph VanderStel, Christopher Cooley, Nasir Ali, Anthony Testa, Rupa Thind, and Evan Vershay.


Problem Solving Workshop

The first workshop of 2019 was co-hosted with Eastman’s Institute for Music Leadership and the Barbara J. Burger iZone – here’s our recap!

Business Plan Workshop

Business plan writing isn’t always easy, but speaker David Mammano summed up the process in a few manageable steps.

Students 2 Startups

This semester brought Students 2 Startups back to the River Campus. On February 15, the Ain Center and the Gwen Greene Center hosted 16 regional startups who pitched their venture to members of the University community. Over 70 attendees were able to learn about innovative work happening in Rochester. The Ain Center’s Senior Program Manager, Matt Spielmann, shared his excitement about the connections made during the event – local entrepreneurs offered valuable internship opportunities and advice to student innovators.

Buzz Lab Boot Camp

In February, we welcomed our second cohort of entrepreneurs to the Buzz Lab Boot Camp, made possible by an EDA University Center grant through the US Department of Commerce. Open to all, this four-week training program covered topics from Idea Filtering to Business Structure and Tax Law. 35 attendees (innovators from the greater Rochester area, including a few UR students) worked with 12 professionals to build their business acumen.

Business Strategy Panel Event

On March 28, Meliora LaunchPad, the Greene Center, and the Ain Center hosted three panelists for a lunch event on business strategy in the tech world. Aditya Agashe (Product Manager, Microsoft), Parth Detroja (Product Manager, Facebook), and Neel Mehta (Product Manager, Google) discussed when and how to enter a new market, as well as their recent book, Swipe to Unlock. Their talk was immensely popular with our students, undergraduate and grad, and the speakers even offered discounted copies of their book.

Upon writing, we realized that we did too many things (yay entrepreneurship events!) to contain it all in one post. You can find Part II here.