Jacqueline Molik Ghosen
BUFFALO, N.Y. – More than $10,000 in seed funding was awarded to an information technology company that won first place in the University at Buffalo's Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition (Panasci TEC).
Smruthi Mukund, UB doctoral student and team captain, Anurag Bharadwaj, Venugopal Govindaraju, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, Vedanth Satyanarayana and Achint Oommen Thomas won first place for their proposed business, Lectio Labs.
Lectio Labs is a Web-based interface designed to help users discover new information through shared interests in their network of intellectual peers. After signing up to Lectio, users can receive and read personalized news through their myLectio accounts. They can also link their Lectio accounts to their Facebook accounts.
The team plans a consumer-based application as well as a customized enterprise version that will facilitate collaboration within companies.
“The Panasci TEC competition was invaluable,” said Mukund. “There are thousands of good ideas, but only the one or two with a good business plan make it. Our Lectio idea was good, but we were definitely not equipped with the skills needed make it a reality in terms of a business. Through the process laid out by the School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, we learned so much about revenue streams and marketing streams, and we had even more ideas about how to improve Lectio and make it more interesting to use.
“The CEL also paired us with a mentor, Paul McAfee, from Exubrio Group,” Mukund said. “He was incredibly helpful at every step of the process.”
Now in its 11th year, Panasci TEC awards seed money and business services to the team that presents the best plan for launch of a viable new business. Eleven local ventures have been launched with first-place prize money since the UB competition began, and most are still in business.
In addition to the $10,000 in start-up funding, the winning team will receive in-kind awards for legal services from Jaeckle Fleischmann & Mugel LLP, accounting services from Kopin & Co. P.C., human resource start-up services from the People Plan by HR Foundations Inc. and office space from North Forest Office Space, bringing the total package to more than $20,000.
The competition was created by the University at Buffalo School of Management and the UB Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach, and is funded with a $1 million endowment from the late Henry A. Panasci Jr. to facilitate and promote the commercialization of UB-generated technologies.
Based on the content of their written business plans, five teams were selected to present their business plans publicly in the competition’s final round on April 27 at the Jacobs Executive Development Center. Each team delivered a 10-minute presentation and was evaluated on how well they described the feasibility and marketability of their venture, proved the need for their product or service and presented potential sources of capital.
Other new venture ideas included a software company specializing in online and client-based preference scheduling of nurses; a restaurant delivery service providing marketing, order processing and delivery services; a software solution enabling individuals with disabilities to perform computer tasks; and an integrated service designed to enhance word-of-mouth advertising.
Serving as judges for the competition were Robert H. Fritzinger, director, SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator; James Hengst, president and CEO, ZeptoMetrix Corp.; Marnie LaVigne, director of business development, UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences; Mel E. Passarelli, vice president of North American operations, Attunity; Brian Pearson, president, Valuation Advisors LLC; and Alan Zdon, owner, iCraveit.com.
The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report and The Wall Street Journal for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit mgt.buffalo.edu.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB’s more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.
Photo (from left): team member Venugopal Govindaraju, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering; team advisor Srirangaraj Setlur, research scientist at the UB Center for Unified Biometrics and Sensors; team captain Smruthi Mukund, UB doctoral student; and team mentor Paul McAfee, CEO of Exubrio Group.