By GREGORY ZELLER //
Ten teams of innovative Long Island collegians are a little bit richer and a little bit closer to their dreams of commercial success.
Entrepreneurial squads from Farmingdale State College, Hofstra University, NYIT-Old Westbury and Stony Brook University competed Thursday in the Long Island regional round of the New York State Business Plan Competition, a day-long pitch-a-thon held inside Farmingdale State’s Campus Center.
NYIT took top collective honors, with four teams qualifying for the state competition’s final round, scheduled for later this month in Albany.
Competing in one of four categories – Information Technology/Software, Products/Services, Biotechnology/Healthcare and Nanotechnology/High-Tech – 21 total teams vied Thursday for $30,000 in regional seed money, with $6,000 prizes awarded to the top finisher in each category and $1,000 to category runner-ups.
Two alternate teams also won $1,000 stipends and the right to be on hand, if needed, for the finals.
The 21 teams presented their ideas to a panel of judges led by Steve Winick, managing director of Syosset private equity firm Topspin Partners; entrepreneur Mark Alessi; attorneys Ray Farrell and Joe Campolo; and LISTnet President Peter Goldsmith, plus university-level educators.
The four finalists from NYIT include Ross Cohen and Marwan Elayouby’s SHIB Website Builder, top finisher in the IT category, and TETRA, an automaton used by elderly or otherwise restricted persons to transport heavier objects, and the top finisher in the Products/Services category, presented by Daniel Sandoval, Nikola Bosnjak and Josh Greenberg.
Other NYIT teams heading north are Stefan Pougatchev’s Stem Education project, the Nanotechnology/High-Tech runner-up with STEM and robotics programs for schools and youth camps, and alternate TetraMorph Engineering, a startup launched by Steven Patrickis, inventor of a 3D-printed prosthetic appendage for lower-arm amputees.
Stony Brook University also shined. All three of its regional teams earned a ticket north, led by high-tech champion Smart Vision – smart goggles that track distance and other data for swimmers, pitched by the team of Zhongwei Liu, Li Liu, Jianping Huang and Kai Wu. Stony Brook also posted two runner-ups. ChromaFISH – a mobile app for managing fish-tank chemistry presented by Gabriel Ruttner, Christy Au and Ravi Patel – took second in the biotech category, while Sullstice, James O’Sullivan’s beta-test digital hit helping students and teachers collaborate outside the classroom, placed in the IT category.
Hofstra, which fielded the most teams (seven), snagged a win in the biotech category with Todd Goldstein’s Mano-Matic, a 3D-printed bionic hand stocked with advanced sensors and motors that’s affordable enough for young wearers to swap out as they grow.
Other Hofstra entries heading north include Clear Way, an adaptive respirator system presented by Ron Kort that took second in the Products/Services category, and Easey, Brittany Scrieber’s time-management app, deemed a regional alternate.
Farmingdale State’s five teams dominated the Products/Services category but failed to medal, including Karl Nilsen’s Wave Warmers, waterproof hand/foot warmers for surfers and other outdoorsy types; Jacob Manning’s Quintessential Technologies, which purports to “bridge the technology gap” for personal and small-business computer users who aren’t up to IT snuff; and Gina Guerrieri’s Underground Anthems, which is stepping back in time to create a print magazine connecting older audiences to the new-music scene.
Also from FSC: Giovhanny Archer’s Miracle Marketing Group, an all-purpose traditional and digital marketing shop geared toward startups, and “functional apparel” fashion-retail group Neila Planetarium, presented by Steven Calixte and Sacsha Flowers.
Other pitches at the daylong event:
- Beacon, a location-based app for building like-minded communities, presented by Hofstra students Christopher Davie and Taylor Ninesling.
- Aware, a digital tool for analyzing public sentiment, presented by Hofstra students Samuel Fregley and Wahid Hadi.
- Look, a digital-age update on the classic “staring contest” presented by the Hofstra team of Lynn Luong, Anthony Avgi and Nicholas Demczar.
- Park-Mi, a digital solution for optimizing parking scenarios, presented by Hofstra students Jacqueline Hsu, Thomas Georgiades and Stanley Shvartzberg.
- A Power Wheel Chair presented by NYIT student David Colletti.
- Smart School, a school-management app that tracks buses, student attendance, grades and a host of other administrative factors, presented by NYIT students Santosh Kayyada and Davender Singh.
The 10 regional winners, including the two alternates, will join 90 other teams from across the state – 10 from each of New York’s 10 economic zones – for the final round of the seventh-annual NYBPC, scheduled for April 29.
At stake will be more than $500,000 in startup seed money, including a $100,000 grand prize.
Long Island finalists were shut out in the final round of the 2015 competition, with UMA Bioseed – a Cornell University-born biotech firm that targets pathogens threatening crop yields – capturing the top prize and runner-up awards going to teams from SUNY Polytechnic Institute, SUNY Geneseo, Syracuse University and CUNY-Baruch College.