Students to Pitch New Businesses at First IgniteU NY Demo Day

Students to Pitch New Businesses at First IgniteU NY Demo Day

The inaugural class of new IgniteU NY will pitch their new businesses to investors. IgniteU NY is the region’s first all-student early accelerator.

Among the companies presenting is ChugaChaga Inc., led by University of Albany seniors Luke Evans and Marc Iskander. They aim to develop their company into a national brand for bottled tea made with chaga, an antioxidant-rich mushroom that grows on birch trees in cold climates.

With $40,ChugaChaga Presents at IgniteU NY Demo Day July 31000 in prize winnings and loans, ChugaChaga plans to introduce their “Tea Tree” product in four flavors at the Bethel Woods Farmers Market at the end of August!

Special thanks to Bruce Toyama (IgniteU NY co-founder), Martin Babinec (founder of Upstate Venture Connect), Michele Salisbury (NYSTEC Director of CNY Economic Development & Outreach), and Mike Walsh (CEO of NYSTEC).

Each of these individuals played a major role in the creation of IgniteU NY. This is another sign of the Capital Region’s rapidly expanding startup economy.

To learn more and register for the event, please visit Upstate Venture Connect’s UNY Event Calendar!

Team Profiles!

EnerMat Technologies, Inc. Eklavya Singh and Rahul Mukherjee, who both were awarded doctoral degrees from RPI in 2014, will work on the development of longer-lasting, faster-charging, and lighter-weight batteries for use in electric vehicles and consumer electronics devices. Their focus is a proprietary technique for manufacturing electrodes from graphene, an extraordinary form of carbon that’s the best conductor of electricity yet discovered. Key next steps include refining the manufacturing process, developing a technology commercialization road map, engaging with prospective customers and raising venture capital. Together, Singh and Mukherjee hold several patents in energy storage and nanomaterial fabrication. NYSERDA has awarded EnerMat first-round funding of $250,000.

ChugaChaga, Inc. Luke Evans and Marc Iskander, both juniors at the University of Albany, aim to develop ChugaChaga into a national brand for bottled tea made with chaga, a super-antioxidant-rich mushroom that grows on birch trees in cold climates. Initially offering four flavors – classic, mint maple, cherry vanilla, and peach – Evans and Iskander plan to target their “TreeTea” to specialty grocers, farmers markets, and sandwich and coffee shops. Key next steps include launching their product, growing their professional network, establishing a board of directors, and obtaining venture funding. ChugaChaga took third in the products and services category of the 2015 New York State Business Plan Competition.

helpir (how every little problem is resolved). Taking an approach that’s similar to such well-known web-based services as Uber, Airbnb and Fiverr, Mitchel Wacholder, a 2014 RPI graduate, is developing helpir as an online marketplace that enables people to outsource small jobs and tasks — called Quests — to other capable people locally. Quests range anywhere from yard work, cleaning, and deliveries to computers, electronics, and minor home repairs. Helpir also enables users to obtain educational lessons in relation to the services offered. By signing up on the helpir site, anyone may become a ‘wantir’ to receive help or a ‘helpir’ to provide help. Key areas in which Wacholder will focus going forward include software development, marketing & research strategies, hiring and managing of team members, and business development.

Troy Shirt Company. A 2012 RPI graduate who majored in computer systems engineering with a focus on technological entrepreneurship, David Langer seeks to develop his enterprise into Troy’s premium producer of custom-screen printed apparel. Along the way, he’s exploring ways to enhance and simplify the traditional screen-printing process and develop a new technology that could revolutionize the apparel industry. Key next steps include expanding the firm’s customer base, increasing sales, and continuing his research and development.

SMARTACUS LLUVC Builds Startup CommunityC is a newly launched marketing agency supporting student-led businesses. For more information, reach out to Dan Forbush at 518.487.0165.



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