University at Buffalo School of Management

Buffalo Business - Autumn 2014

The magazine for alumni and friends of the UB School of Management

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B B Autumn 2014 The School of Management and its Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) are key partners in a growing effort at UB to promote entrepreneurship. In collaboration with the Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR) and the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Academy, the school and CEL are engaged in a number of initiatives that will help create an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Western New York, starting with students at UB. Ready, set, pitch! Imagine the following nerve-wracking sce- nario: You're standing in a room full of aspiring entrepreneurs and you have just 90 seconds to present a business idea to a panel of judges— without the use of notes, slides or other visual aids. That's the type of drama UB's Elevator Pitch competition delivered at its second annu- al event on April 16. Open to students across UB, it was like ABC's "Shark Tank"—only faster. The atmos- phere was collegial but tense, with competitors practicing rapid-fire talks outside the room before taking the stage. There were meltdowns and mistakes, as well as moments of perfection. In the end, nearly 60 students pitched business ideas with novel solutions to real-world challenges, and the first-place winners received $1,000 for pre- senting the most compelling ideas clearly—and quickly. Undergraduate accounting student Brittany Popovski was one of the first-place winners for ULock, an app that would lock stu- dents out of their cellphones so they can focus on studying. Undergraduate computer science students Joel Little and Robert Barber took the other first-place prize for Ethos Studios, which would produce customized mobile video games for business marketing. The eLab For those who wish to go beyond the 90- second pitch, there is the Entrepreneurship Lab, or eLab. Forget homework and tests; this is not a traditional course. Students spend three weeks during UB's winter session fine-tuning their business pitches, engaging potential cus- tomers and sizing up target markets. Open to both undergraduate and graduate students, eLab accelerates the startup process for students with entrepreneurial ideas. They hear from guest speakers from the local business community and make a trip to a Western New York Venture Association forum, where they can watch a pitch for capital in action. At the end, participants present their start- up ideas to a panel of local business leaders and investors. The students with the most promis- ing projects win the university's new Student Entrepreneur Fellowship, including $5,000 to $8,000 in startup funds, mentorship and shared space in the UB Technology Incubator. The course was developed and is taught by Yong Li, associate professor of operations man- agement and strategy in the School of Management. "We called the course a lab because we wanted our students to learn concepts and tools, and then use them to test whether their ideas are technically and commercially "This was exactly the kind of hands-on work and practical knowledge I needed to move my business forward." — April LoTempio, PMBA student CULTIVATING ENTREPRENEURS By Jacqueline Molik Ghosen The winners of the second annual Elevator Pitch competition. Fred Lee, who took second place with his pitch for Living Life Enhanced, a motivational speaking and life coaching firm. Photos: Nancy J. Parisi

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