Saunders Summer Startup: Students jumpstart businesses during summer school

Ten-week program has an end goal of producing investment-ready ventures

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Ever dream of owning your own business?

Students at Rochester Institute of Technology get to experience entrepreneurship firsthand at Saunders Summer Startup—a small-business launchpad where young innovators with bright ideas form interdisciplinary teams to start real companies.

Established in 2011, RIT’s joint initiative between the Albert J. Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Saunders College of Business is an accelerated 10-week commitment that requires student teams to work full time on their businesses over the summer. The program culminates in an “Investor Night” from 6 to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 13, at RIT’s Student Innovation Hall.

“Summer Startup is the most intensive entrepreneurial experience that we offer at RIT,” said Richard DeMartino, the Albert J. Simone endowed chair and director of the Simone Center. “It’s both educational and developmental, and some of these businesses will actually become high growth businesses. In the past, we’ve had a couple that have raised a half million and a million dollars, and more.”

Each of the six startups below is offered a stipend, working space in RIT’s Venture Creations and support from RIT faculty, assigned mentors and community business leaders.

  • Skyvo: Introduces Binder technology for the classroom, a fully engaging learning management solution built specifically for K-12 schools using iPads
  • UEstate: A system—with real-time data and listings—that facilitates real estate transactions and saves consumers money in the buying and selling process
  • ThermoCheck Company: A smart fraud-detection label that physically indicates whether retail-clothing items have been worn and then returned to the store
  • Empire Design Labs: The NCAA equivalent for video games for players to enjoy electronic sports leagues and tournaments
  • Fuse: An app that literally spells “fun”—where families and friends can share and add-to events/memories on a recorded video
  • Mobile Centrifuge: A blood transport container system with a regulated temperature for phlebotomists transporting life materials to and from hospitals

“‘What’s the next big idea’ is at the top of every entrepreneur’s mind—especially with students,” said Richard Notargiacomo, director of innovation for the Simone Center. “RIT offers a safe and supportive environment for students to learn and practice skills that will help them in a business they are passionate about. Dreams of success are allowed here; it’s something we believe in.”