In what felt like a coming of age for the Saratoga Springs startup scene, a crowd of more than 300 filled Universal Preservation Hall October 14 for “Startup Saratoga.” The event was modeled on Startup Tech Valley, the big monthly meet up that RPI’s Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship typically hosts at Troy’s Revolution Hall.
The Saratoga Chamber of Commerce organized the event, partnering with Startup Tech Valley, Saratoga TechOUT, AT&T, Informz, Shmaltz Brewing, and MadGlory. It was one of the largest to take place in Universal Preservation Hall − which was saved from destruction a decade ago and is well on its way toward full restoration − since it entered a strategic alliance with Proctors Theater in Schenectady in July.
Five new companies made pitches, including two student-led businesses – Double Dee’s and Allstolen Apparel Co. − that took first and second place in Skidmore College’s 2015 Kenneth A. Freirich Business Plan Competition.
Double Dee’s is led by Stella Langat, a senior who in 2012 started Kenya’s first indigenous undergarment business. Her aim is to address a serious health problem that stems from the fact that − due to low income − 90 percent of Kenyan women must buy their underwear on an illegal second-hand market. This puts them at risk of infections and rashes. Also, because all tags are removed, women have great difficulty finding underwear that fits properly.
Aiming to offer bras at an affordable price, Double Dee’s had its market launch in Nairobi in August. Langat is using $20,000 she won in the Freirich Competition to fund production of 450 bras to be sold through four retail outlets in Nairobi.
Allstolen is led by seniors Elizabeth Worgan and Dave Florence. Winning $10,000 in the Freirich Competition, they have developed a new line of clothing that combines sportswear and high fashion.
- Tyler Schrodt, a recent RIT graduate whose Electronic Gaming Federation aspires to be the “NCAA of electronic games”;
- Anthony Lombardo, who will soon launch a beta version of Expex, an automated accounts payable system;
- Chris Thompson, founder and CEO of WorkOrder.es Inc,, a mobile work order ticketing system for landlords and property managers.