Hotel Proxy is an exclusive, online community for hotels to share rates and availability information on a daily basis. [read more]
The system alleviates the need to both make and receive a large number of phone calls to gather this data. By simply decreasing unnecessary interruptions, customer service and employee satisfaction will benefit. The idea came about in the Fall of 2006 when Breana Sniezek, an RIT hospitality student working at a local hotel, was asked what she disliked about her job. She mentioned the call-around process and that inspired Christopher Geiss, an RIT computer engineering student, to come up with the idea. After sharing this with Marc Baumbach, an RIT software engineering student, the two business partners decided it was worthy of being on their list of ideas. Chris spent time creating the name and logo, but it then laid dormant for nine months.
In the Fall of 2007, Breana was able to survey local hotels to determine its feasibility. This research served as her senior project with Professor David Crumb as her mentor. Professor Crumb’s experience as a hotel general manager and his continued advisement has been invaluable to the team. Chris decided to pursue a minor in entrepreneurship from the Saunders College of Business and joined the Student Business Development Lab during the 2007 Winter quarter with Dr. Richard DeMartino as his advisor. With positive survey results, Marc and Chris moved forward by creating the actual Hotel Proxy system. At the end of January, 2008, the team launched the beta in Rochester, NY by presenting to the Rochester Hotel Association. The number of registered hotels went from 5 to 32 within the first month with no further marketing.
With the assistance of Dr. Francis Domoy and the School of Hospitality and Service Management, the team was able to deliver a very well received presentation to Marriott International at their corporate headquarters. Also, Janice Farone and the College of Applied Science and Technology helped sponsor the team’s exhibit in the first Imagine RIT Festival where they created a hotel lobby in the Gordon Field House to showcase their idea. The team has been incredibly fortunate to receive so much advice and support from four different RIT colleges.
After graduation in May of 2008, Breana will pursue her MBA from RIT while Marc and Chris work for IBM in North Carolina. As they continue to progress Hotel Proxy, the goal is to repeat Rochester’s success in a larger city and then begin a national campaign. Hotel Proxy is not the only idea on this creative team’s list, so look for them in other markets as time goes on.
Hotel Proxy was written up in the New York Times, click here for the article.
The College Blog Network
The College Blog Network connects college student, alumni, and faculty blogs from colleges around the world. TCBN is a central hub for college bloggers covering any topic, and serves as an easy way to keep a pulse on the topics and events people are talking about at your school. [read more]
TheCollegeBlogNetwork.com is the web's first open community of college bloggers. TBCN's the first site to aggregate college blogs exclusively, organizing them by state, school, and promoting them via RSS feeds, widgets, and the site's own bump/dump user-controlled rating system. While anyone can browse TCBN content and sign up for RSS feeds, only registered users with a valid .edu address can join the site to post comments, rate blogs, and share their own blog. As blogs continue to influence mainstream discussion, TCBN serves as home of the college blogosphere.
Founded in November 2007 by Spencer March (Applied Arts & Sciences, Entrepreneurship Minor ‘08) and Dan Wasyluk (New Media Interactive Development.)
Statistics as of 7/21/08:
# of Schools Registered: 110 colleges submitted by users in 34 states # of Blogs Registered: 151 written by independent college students, unaffiliated with any type of university marketing or admissions office # of Unique Hits in July: 2,100 # of Page Views in July: 8,600
We currently have a content partnership with the Democrat and Chronicle, publishing student blog posts on their regional website targeted to area colleges, RocLoop.com. RIT’s Reporter Magazine website also uses our RSS feed of RIT bloggers. Just recently, we won a competition on investment website www.Vator.tv for a business bootcamp and a chance to obtain venture capital funding. Over the summer, we will be relaunching the site with a new design and more interactive features.
Temporary Ink Sanity
Melissa Molaire isn't into tattoos, but she loves body art. [read more]
And she's banking on the idea that diehard fans at sports arenas and stadiums around the country - who express their team loyalty with painted faces and bodies - will buy into her business idea. Molaire is using the resources of the Albert J. Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to conduct market research and focus groups to test the viability of Temporary Ink Sanity, a company specializing in body art. "The center's faculty is insightful, and they use their own experiences to guide and advise me on developing a company. It's aplace where you're free to develop an idea or a business plan, and conduct the research necessary to see if your business concept is viable," Molaire explains.
Andrew Kupchick and Cerion
One of the capabilities of the Simone Center is to research opportunities for innovative products and to act as a liaison between companies and academia.
Cerion Advisory Board, From L to R: Dr. Elder, Uof R, Lisa DeLouise, PhD, U of R, Andrew Kupchik, RIT, Mick Stadler, Cerion Technology President, Ken Reed, Cerion Technology CTO
Consider the case of Andrew Kupchik and Cerion Technology. Cerion is a leader in the field of nanoparticle technology and Mr. Kupchik is an MBA student at the Saunders College of Business at RIT. Under the auspices of the Simone Center, Mr. Kupchik researched the capabilities of Cerion's technology as it applied to the medical field and helped identify opportunities for possible commercial exploitation of the technology. To that end, Mr. Kupchik located medical researchers at the University of Rochester whose work intersected with Cerion's innovative expertise and facilitated a meeting between all of the interested parties. The result of that meeting was an agreement for preliminary resesarch to validate certain assumptions with an eye toward future collaborative
Dark Wind Media, Ltd.
A recent company to join Venture Creations is DarkWind Media, a software development firm started by RIT students Colin Doody and Brian Johnstone. [read more]
Doody, a master's degree student in game design and development and Johnstone, a fifth year software engineering major, both in the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, had been interested in developing 3-D programming in conjunction with their own research when they were approached by RIT professors Richard Doolittle, director of biomedical sciences, and Paul Craig, professor of chemistry, both from the College of Science. Doolittle and Craig were looking for assistance in developing a software package for use in their Human Visualization Project (HVP). Doody and Johnstone created a prototype that allowed for rapid 3-D visualization of different organs. It was ultimately incorporated into a virtual tour of the pancreas, which HVP developed and then presented to Merck Pharmaceutical, the National Science Foundation, and numerous other businesses and organizations.
The success of the effort convinced Doody and Johnstone that they could create a visualization program that would improve on the current technology available and be usable in a wide variety of applications. They sought help from the Simone Center to begin development of their business idea, and ultimately incorporated in October of 2007. Now located in the Venture Creations incubator, Dark Wind has grown rapidly. On top of their continued work with HVP, they are providing software development support to RIT's Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Lab as well as doing freelance work for the American Cancer Society. The company now has four employees and currently utilizes a co-op student provided by RIT's Saunders College of Business.
Doody and Johnstone's success exemplifies how quickly a good idea can lead to profit, especially when the infrastructure and support are present to help students take the next step.
Casey Jordan: Jorsek
In June of 2006, Casey Jordan from RIT teamed up with Patrick Bosek of the University of Buffalo at RIT’s Student Business Development Lab. They started Jorsek, their company, as a provider of web development. Jorsek has created a document management and publication suite, which they have begun to sell. [read more]
Jordan actually began his entrepreneurial career with a different internet start up. That taught him some skills with putting a business together, but he credits a large portion of their current success to the experience with the Development Lab. “If I had known about the student business incubator during my last project,” says Jordan, “we’d be in a much better position now.”
In addition to using the facilities at the Student Business Development Lab, Jorsek also worked with an undergraduate team from Dr. Neil Hair’s Internet Marketing class. That team completed an in-depth study to analyze potential marketing techniques and compiled a lot of helpful information for the company. Also, Jordan says that “having MBA students and other graduates around at the Development Lab has been very helpful; people are good at answering business development questions for a techie.”
Because of its connections through RIT, Jorsek paired up with Jim Hunt, an alumnus mentor. Mr. Hunt sits on the Board of Directors for 15 technology companies and he’s created and grown several mid-sized companies. “He and Dr. DeMartino have been invaluable in getting our business up and running,” says Jordan.
“Ultimately,” Jordan affirms, “there are a multitude of resources available and people are extremely helpful. The resources are here at RIT; you just need the initiative to make use of them.”
Brian Bennett and Matt Smith
Mr. Bennett was granted a BS in Information Technology from RIT in 2007 and is currently pursuing an MBA at the Saunders College of Business. During the course of his work in achieving his MBA, Mr. Bennett has partnered with RIT scientists on two different projects, each of which highlight the capabilities of the Simone Center. [read more]
In the first, he did a project, along with Matt Smith, to determine the market viability of a device called MicroGonioPhotometer. Invented by Dr. Jon Arney, Associate Professor at the Center for Imaging Science at RIT, the MicoGonioPhotometer is, in effect, a gloss meter that measures the relative "shininess" of an object.
In the second, he worked with Corey Mack, an RIT engineering student and inventor. The scope of this project was to determine the business direction of Corey's ideas and to establish if Corey's ideas are in fact "opportunities" that could be commercialized.
According to Mr. Bennett, "the Center for Entrepreneurship is a great place to create synergies across disciplines. First of all, creative inventors are given help, (for free), from people with expertise in different aspects of business. Second, business students are given a place to gain "real world" experience, work with someone from other fields, and to implement their class-learned knowledge in real situations."
He continued, "another great thing about this work is that businesses can be "worked on" at any stage of development. Some projects come in that are in the very early stages that are just ideas. Our job is to help them determine what businesses can come out of those ideas and if they represent an opportunity for a viable business. Other projects can be for businesses that know what they want to do and maybe even how to do it, but don't have the business side of the equation. We can help them write an actual business plan or do marketing research."