Southern Tier Meet-Up 12/15/16
By: Travis Clines
The Southern Tier Meetup, which is in its fourth year, has reached its conclusion said Dan Mori.
“Everything has a life cycle, everything serves a purpose and I feel this event really was a catalyst for change,” said the original member and an organizer of the event. “We’ve done a really good job of expanding our relationships and over the last four year or two everyone has been thinking about ‘How do we actually go deeper in these relationships?’”
Mori said the answer was more targeted events that focus on different segments and areas. He said the Meetup did not want to be a competitor or redundant and will only meet annually from now on.
“I believe we’ve had some great presenters and content; I know I’ve learned a tremendous amount from these events,” Mori said. “There was also a lot of active networking where we do talk about doing business with each other.”
For four years the event met monthly bringing small businesses together with experts in different fields to share knowledge and best practices. Mori contributed the success of the event to the lack of anything similar in the area. Since then the meetings have been held all around the Southern Tier, including Horseheads, Corning, Nichols and Binghamton, among other areas.
“There was an idea about getting together and taking the power of social media and mixing it with the power of face-to-face interaction and collaboration,” Mori said. “That idea turned into the Southern Tier Meetup. We started with just 25 people around a table and it was tremendous. We asked a very simple question, ‘What is it that you need?’”
Below are some of the meetings in the Southern Tier that focus on specific areas. If you can’t find what you need please go to (UVC Site) where there is a full calendar of events in the area.
A group that meets monthly and works to help entrepreneurs grow. At the event you can pitch your idea and receive feedback from other like-minded individuals, many of whom have been where you are. For more information, contact Darren MacDonald at email@example.com
Business Professional Group
For those in the Corning area, a new event, which began in November and is held on the first Wednesday of each month from nine to 10 a.m., is working to share best practices amongst business. The meeting is geared specifically for small businesses and is held in the Centerway ExecuCenter in Corning, N.Y. For more information, please contact Darin Strong at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re a creative of any kind and are looking for other like-minded individuals to talk shop with, this event is for you. The monthly events, which alternates between coffee and cocktails, allows creatives to network and share resources among one another. For more information, contact Rachel Jenks at email@example.com
Southern Tier Energy Network
With the need and importance of renewable resources growing this group looks to spread the word in clean energy and to help the transition in transportation, buildings, manufacturing and other areas. The event is held on the third Thursday of each month. For more information, please contact Adam Flint at firstname.lastname@example.org
The importance of deeper relationships among business owners is promoted at this event. Through “pitch free” networking this meeting looks to participants learn more about one another on a personal level. Held on the third Tuesday of each event also features speakers. The first meeting will be January 17th at 5 to 7 p.m. at The Center in Binghamton. For more information, contact Kim Bush at email@example.com
This monthly meeting, held on the first Thursday of each month, brings together area entrepreneurs and businesses to discuss a variety of topics including energy, retaining young professionals and putting ideas to work through strategic doing. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We all have the tendency to work in our own “silo” unaware of what is going on around us. This monthly networking event brings together professionals from the public and private sector in the Southern Tier to meet and network in the hopes that these connections will break down the “silos", and showcases two or three companies each month. For more information, contact the office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships at Binghamton University at email@example.com
December SUNY BEST 12/11/16
By: Travis Clines
Thomas Kowalik wants people to know the information they hear about the Southern Tier isn’t the whole story.
“The Southern Tier lost 1,400 jobs last year,” said Kowalik, who moderated December’s SUNY BEST. “What was not recorded is that there are more than 5,000 job openings right now in the Southern Tier. We are not going to have an issue of not enough jobs; we’re going to have an issue of not enough workers.”
Speaking to around 100 people, Kowalik focused on how the ideas generated at SUNY BEST could be put to work in the community. The meeting, which was a follow-up to October’s focus of keeping talent in the area, had participants split up into groups to brainstorm ideas for making the community a more attractive place for millennials.
During his talk Kowalik noted the characteristics that make a downtown successful, such as: distinct natural features, historic character, public-private partnerships and public art. Kowalik then showed a TED talk given by Jason Roberts titled “How to build a better block.” Kowlaik said he wanted to show the group present what a small group of people could accomplish for their community.
“I want to inspire you to say ‘I can make a difference with just my passion and energy,’” he said.
An impediment to that, Kowalik said, is our tendency to think in certain ways. After asking the group to complete a task he stressed how everyone completed it in a similar way—even though that was not the only way to accomplish it.
“What I want you to think about is that we have learned through various method to do things a certain way and to think a certain way,” he said. “What I want you to do is to get creative. I want you to think differently, I want you to build on each other’s ideas. Don’t limit your thinking.”
With that, the room broke up into brainstorming groups focusing on improving the Binghamton area. Some of the ideas the groups came up with are: a website for job availability, more walking and biking trails, a performance amphitheater, and a solar art installation.
After the brainstorming was complete and the ideas had been put together some participants began forming groups to complete their ideas, which Kowlaik said had been the goal all along. Near the end of the event he stressed the importance of sticking to an idea and seeing it to completion.
“I think we have created something neat here. You have generated these ideas so quickly, in just seven minutes,” Kowalik said. “The key takeaway for the day is to stay focused, stay energized and don’t talk yourself out of doing something.
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November Idea Pitch 11/17/16By: Travis Clines
A bad hair experience inspired Gwen Ou to start Crownshot, a website that connects people to hairstylists.
“I didn’t know where to get my hair done,” she said. “So what I did was I went to a random hair salon; and after sitting through five hours in the hair salon and wasting over 200 dollars, my hair came out to be straight. Which is exactly how it was when I went in.”
Crownshot would show people photos of stylists’ work so that people could decide which was the right stylist for them.
Ou spoke to a panel of three evaluators at November’s Idea Pitch. The panelist’s included Ken McLeod, Scott Moser and Kyle Washington, all whom emphasized the need to show why a concept is novel. Each presentation was scored on a scale of one to 20, with 20 being ready for funding and scores of 10 and below needing more work on the concept.
McLeod, the Entrepreneur in Residence at the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships (OEIP) said the goal of an idea pitch is to determine the stage of an idea.
“The focus of the Idea Pitch is to help students, individuals or teams get their venture funded,” he said, adding that the OEIP can fund a student company up to 5,000 dollars while they are at Binghamton University. “The idea is to get a sense of ‘Are you ready to get funded?’”
McLeod said teams were judged in four areas: Do you know what you’re doing; How did you come across this idea; Is the idea innovative; and what is your next step. For one group their idea came from something European’s have been using for a while, the bidet.
Matthew Bickoff and Chase Brown of MB Bidets want to improve the bathroom experience using an attachable bidet that would hook into a pre-existing toilet.
“In America we realized there is no market, it really doesn’t exist. We saw a market gap here,” they said. “Instead of the European idea of a separate toilet we wanted to do something simpler to break into that market.”
Moser, the Technology Licensing Assistant for the OEIP, was concerned that the idea wouldn’t be different enough from current products in the market. The duo said they would like to include things such as a phone charging station or pressure regulator to their device.
DormShare wants to physically connect people using the internet.
“It’s a social interaction application,” said Akiva Aranoff and Rob Meyer, founders of the app. “The main idea behind the app is to connect students together. During my time in Binghamton students aren’t as connected as I thought they would be. For example, students don’t really know most of the people on their floor.”
The app would include three functions: Want and Have, which connects people who have something others want; Watch, which would allow people who want to watch the same thing to meet up; and Studying, which allows students in the same class, especially large lecture classes, to meet up and study. The group said they had tested the app hypothetically by talking to students about it.
One group had moved from the hypothetical to the physical with their company Rope You In. Jaqueline Himelfarb and Samantha Tenenbaum, the co-creators of the company said the idea came to them after Tenenbaum saw something similar in a boutique on long island that was above her price range.
“We started our business because we saw a gap in the market,” Himelfarb said. “We’ve been predicting different trends in the market and starting new trends. For example, we make a snakeskin choker that no one’s ever done before.”
Since its creation the company has grossed over 8,000 dollars and sells in three boutiques. The main issue they are having is scaling up production to meet the increasing demand.
These are the scores for the teams: Crownshot, 14 of 20; MB Bidets, 14 of 20; DormShare, 10 of 20; and Rope You In, 20 of 20. The next Idea Pitch will be in the Spring Semester. For questions please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
America East Hackathon 11/5-11/6By: Travis Clines
Juliette Kenny welcomed hackers, both new and old, to the first ever Hack AE.
“I know there are a number of first time hackers with us, so I welcome you,” said Kenny, the executive director of the American East Academic Consortium. “To our seasoned hackers, I would look to you to provide some insight and guidance to our newcomers.”
The event, which is the first time an athletic conference has held an academic conference, took place over the weekend of November 5 with approximately 150 students in attendance. It was held in the Innovative Technologies Complex at Binghamton University.
During the opening ceremonies University President Harvey Stenger focused on the caliber of the hackathon.
“The quality of the students that are here is outstanding, the partners that we have here are outstanding and certainly the facilities are great,” he said. Through clapping and cheering he ended his speech with, “Good luck and happy hacking.”
The students spent 25 hours working on their projects and building skills such as teamwork, coding and critical thinking under a time constraint.
Holly Butler, the project director of the DifferenceMaker Project (DMP) at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, said they held their first hackathon last year and were hoping to learn from Hack AE in areas such as scaling it up. She also said that some of the method’s she teaches to students in the DMP came into practice.
“I kept walking around and I saw them struggling to come up with ideas,” she said. “We have a differencemaker method: problem, opportunity, solutions and resources. They were all focusing on the ideas and solutions. So I sat down with each team separately and told them ‘First you have to think about the problem.’”
Butler said that hackathons are invaluable resources for students to learn skills they might otherwise not.
“I think from a hackathon you can learn a lot of different skills you don’t necessarily learn in the classroom,” she said. “Such as working in teams, brainstorming ideas and actually developing a product in such a short period of time.”
Students came from the University of Albany, Stony Brook University, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Binghamton University and more. For Noah Katz the previous experience and proximity drew him in.
“It’s a lot of fun to be here but to also gain some experience,” he said. “I’ve been to a bunch of Hackathons before and I’ve come to really enjoy them. I’m definitely not going to pass one up that’s this close.”
On the second day of the event the creations were judged by a panel and won based on categories such as Overall Winners, Funniest Hack, Best Education Hack, Best Beginner Hack, as well as categories sponsored by Viacom and General Electric. The closing ceremonies echoed the sentiments that Kenny gave the day before when she focused on the purpose of the event.
“How can we use technology to leave a positive impact on the world?” she said. “So I challenge all of you, as you look to build your software and your hardware projects to think critically about the ways in which technology can be used to better our communities, our states, cities, the nation and the world at large.”
November SUNY BEST 11/3By: Travis Clines
According to William Acker our energy grid is not designed for today’s needs.
“Our grid is not an efficient design and we can make it much more efficient,” said Acker, the executive director of NY BEST. “We’re going from an old style grid that goes from central power plants, through transmission networks, through distribution networks and down to the loads; to something that looks much more like a network.”
Acker was one of four panelists to speak to a room of over 50 at November’s SUNY BEST. The event was held in the University Downtown Center and focused on the future of energy storage while featuring a variety of speakers from the field.
While the forms of energy storage are varied, including batteries, hydro-electric, flywheels, capacitors, compressed air as well as others, the goal is simple—to store energy for when it is needed.
Ravi Tetambe, the program manager for Renewable Resources Optimization at NYSERDA said that 70% of wind turbine energy is produced at night, when it is not needed. In order to meet the goal of making New York state powered by 80% renewables by 2050 energy storage will need to be increased.
“My simple analogue of energy storage is a water tower storage tank. The water goes up there, it gets stored and we use it whenever we need,” he said. “Energy storage is very similar to that. All we are doing is storing energy somewhere and using it when we need it.”
One of the areas energy storage options discussed were capacitors, which rearrange ions to both store and discharge energy rapidly.
Chad Hall, the senior vice-president of Sales and Marketing for Ioxus, Inc., said capacitors are 98 percent efficient and have a longer cycle life. A cycle is when a storage device charges and then discharges. Capacitors have lifetimes of millions of cycles, while the lithium-ion battery is around 1,000 cycles.
“One of the problems with batteries is that cool temperatures, around zero to minus 10, start to clog them up. But with ultra-capacitors minus 40 is not a problem,” Hall said, adding some of the uses of capacitors lie in transportation. “Ultra-capacitors are the cheap solution for mild and hybrid buses. China has been using them for years.”
One of the ways in which energy storage can benefit the electrical grid is through smoothing, or maintaining energy available in relations to energy needed, said Dr. Stanley Wittingham the director of NECCES, a group that studies the fundamentals of the lithium-ion battery.
Wittingham, who is one of the inventors of the lithium-ion battery, said that while the Li-ion battery has great energy storage compared to weight, it is not enough and it doesn’t meet the theoretical limit. Increasing the amount of energy that can be stored is one of the goals of NECCES Wittingham said.
“Today’s batteries are very limited in how much energy they store,” he said. “We ought to be able to do better and the question is ‘Can we do better and still maintain the safety of these systems?’”
Launch Bing 10/26By: Travis Clines
For Ken McLeod entrepreneurship is about more than starting a business.
“Entrepreneurship isn’t so much about starting a company as it is starting a venture,” said the Entrepreneur in Residence in the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships (OEIP). “Back in the Fifties we used to call them adventures. Ventures are adventures, they’re not businesses. Maybe if we’re lucky they’ll become a business, but they are an adventure.”
McLeod spoke to over 100 students in the Mandela Room on the importance of entrepreneurship. Along with McLeod, six other students spoke at the event that was sponsored by the OEIP, Harpur Edge, Enactus and other student groups.
McLeod also spoke to the importance of entrepreneurship in economic growth. While Established companies are focusing on increasing profits by decreasing the number of employees, startups focus on growing through hiring new employees.
Tremayne Stewart talked about the impact entrepreneurship had on his personal growth. The creator of CConnect, an app to centralize communications in non-profits and student organizations, said in 2012, when he decided he wanted to be an entrepreneur, he would go onto the subway and introduce himself to his fellow riders. All with the goal of getting over his shyness.
“There’s another part of entrepreneurship that I feel is the most important; it’s personal development. You have to want to become an entrepreneur,” he said. “So I would put myself in uncomfortable positions to try and grow personally.”
The key to getting others interested in your idea is to show them you are passionate said David Axelrod, the creator of Loom VR, a language learning program that uses virtual reality to immerse you in the language. He advised students to create a “Garage Prototype” to show to possible investors and teammates to show your commitment.
He said the chances of success are increased when working in a team.
“The complimentary skillset that somebody else can add drastically improve your probability of success and drastically improves the final product,” Axelrod said.
The story behind Chick-N-Bap, one of the most popular food options in the Marketplace on campus, is the quest to find food from home said Sung Kim, creator of the Korean inspired food. Kim told the audience that when he started his company he had little support, but that his own competitive spirit drove him.
He hopes that with the popularity of Chick-N-Bap’s food it will encourage students to try more common Korean food.
“If I can work as a gateway food for you guys to try Korean food, so that when you graduate you can say, ‘I’ve tried a taste of Korean food, maybe we can try the real thing next,’” he said. “That is my ultimate goal.”
Mauricio Morales, the creator of Tibah, a chat bot that aims to make fitness and being healthy a habit in the lives of its users, talked about the success his idea had in the beginning. But as he added updates and changes, the feedback wasn’t all positive. He said user feedback is critical in the success of a product.
“I think the biggest question to ask is ‘Why?’ When you start asking people ‘Why?’ you start getting feedback from your product,” Morales said. “Once you start learning that you get closer to realizing that you’re building something really awesome.”
October SUNY BEST 10/6/16By: Travis Clines
This past Thursday SUNY BEST featured something it never has before—a panel.
The panel, made up of young professionals from the area focused on keeping young people working and living in the Binghamton area. The audience of around 80 people was also given the opportunity to voice their issues when it came to maintaining a younger workforce and to ask questions.
Below are some of the things the panel had to say:
Bob Murphy, City of Binghamton
“The issue [is] retaining young people and young professionals, machinists, welders, plumbers, pipefitters, carpenters. How can we make that work? What’s bringing people back? What will bring people back? And it’s that connection [between people that will bring them back].”
Jennifer Conway, Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce
“Our greatest asset is our people. I’m not just saying that, I’ve lived a lot of different places, and I’ve never connected with people like I have in the Binghamton area. It’s been a year here and I have more connections and relationships because we have in common a passion for making it the best place it can be.”
Stephen Campbell ’10, Morgan Stanley
“I would issue a challenge. What has made us stay, is you have people, but unless you’re intentional about getting together with people you will always fail. I issue a challenge, we have an issue of keeping and retaining people because I don’t think we’ve done a great job across the board of keeping and developing smaller and deeper relationships with individuals.”
Joshua Bernard ’13, LUMA and BingPop
“When I first moved here there were these two Binghamton’s: The Binghamton that I heard a lot about from people who hated living here. ‘There’s nothing to do, there’s no reason to stay, why would you ever move here?’ And then there was the Binghamton that I quickly discovered by talking with other people, and that is that Binghamton has a lot to do that no one ever seems to know about.”
Casey Coolbaugh ’12, Muckles’ Ink
“Everyone says we want to manufacture something again. We’re not a manufacturing economy anymore. But there’s one thing that does need to be manufactured in Binghamton and that’s inspiration. Because that’s the spark that starts the forest fire and some students are starting to catch on to that. And if you also say ‘Hey you can be someone here and rent is kind of cheap, you can start a business here!’”
Christina Muscatello ’08, The Memory Maker Project
“When I moved back here I started off before the Memory Maker Project at a different job but I was building connections, and I was making the same salary [as in Boston] and I had a full apartment, I had a backyard, a driveway, it’s safe, it’s 0.3 miles from my family where I grew up. For me to have that stability it gave me the perception that I was an adult.”
Joseph Abu ’15, Intern at Southern Tier Capitol Fund
“There are opportunities but they are not diverse enough. I studied political science and sometimes I feel like my interests, my skills, those 24-hour all-nighters spent in Bartle Library have no value. And I’m definitely not the only person who feels that. We can shift the conversation, not from what’s good, but how that good can be realistically applicable.”
Here are some of the concerns that members of the audience had:
-Make sure students never leave.
-We need to spread more information on the area on social media, since that is where younger generations looks.
-Dispel the myth that Binghamton is too small.
-Share the startup community energy.
-Dispel the myth that it is hard to make social connections here.
Here are some of the assets of our area that were mentioned:
- The natural environment
- Accessibility of people
- Unique surrounding towns
- Academic Interaction
- Lack of traffic
- Cost of living
September SUNY BESTBy: Travis Clines
For Laura Bronstein there is no one way to improve a community.
"It is a combination of looking at what is out there so we are not reinventing the wheel,” the Dean of the College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA) said. “[And] looking at the local initiative and listening to people.
”During a talk at the September SUNY BEST (SB) meeting Bronstein emphasized the location of the CCPA is a part of the revitalization in downtown Binghamton.
Bronstein said that issues such as poverty, barriers to education success and transportation, among others need to be addressed in Binghamton. But she also emphasized the strengths of the community such as, increased job opportunity, greater diversity and an increased entrepreneurial culture.
“I would say the collaborative culture is something that has been in the community even long before I came,” she said. “That’s something that’s really unique that we have here.”
Adding to that culture is the CCPA the dean said. The CCPA sponsors and is involved with projects that impact and improve educational opportunities and the local economy. During each academic year CCPA undergraduate students spend 5,040 hours total in internships and service-learning opportunities. For graduate students that number is 33,720 hours.
Increasing the community and economic vitality or the region is done using three strategies, which are: rigorous and informed research, service learning, and mutually beneficial partnerships.
The second speaker of SB was Melinda Sanders, the upstate director of the New York State Mentoring Program. Sanders said the program pairs students at the cusp of success with mentors from organizations in their area. The program targets fourth through fifth grade children, an area where they believe they will have the most success.
“This program is 1:1 and it is based in the schools and it is social and emotional support of the children,” she said. “We always say that mentoring helps mentees but it also helps the mentors—and this changes two lives.”
The children meet with the mentors once a week for an hour and the focus of that hour is improving student’s academic performance, school attendance and behavior.
Local partners in the program are Binghamton University and Modern Marketing Concepts. SUNY BEST is a monthly meeting put on by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships. For more information on this event please visit here.
BINGHAMTON STUDENTS TAKE BRONZE IN BIOMEDICAL COMPETITIONBy: Travis Clines
A team from Binghamton University was one of five to win bronze at EMedic Global 2016.
The team was comprised of seven students with six biomedical majors and a computer science major. The competition, which took place on August 18 to 20 in Hong Kong, worked to promote innovation among biomedical engineering students worldwide Kenneth McLeod said. The Entrepreneur in Residence at the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships said the team’s device was the Tre-no-mor.
The device, a glove, would counteract tremors caused by Parkinson's Disease, a rotational tremor which impedes those with Parkinson’s from doing activities such as drinking coffee, combing their hair and buttoning their shirts. The device was scored based upon clinical impact, novelty, technical merits and presentation.
Twenty-seven teams presented at the conference with five continents being represented.