RIT students jumpstart businesses at Saunders Summer Startup; investor night Aug. 12

Ten weeks of coaching and mentoring has an end goal of producing investment-ready ventures

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Keith Delk

Team Hz Innovations is one of eight teams of entrepreneurs in the Saunders Summer Startup Program that culminates with Investor Night on Aug. 12 at RIT’s Student Innovation Hall. They are, from left: Divesh Soni (second-year computer science); Keith Delk (fourth-year new media design), Justin Plants (Monroe Community College), Greyson Watkins (fourth-year computer security), Chrystal Schlenker (second-year ASL-English interpretation), Zachary Baltzer (second-year microelectronic engineering) and Nicholas Lamb (third-year electrical engineering).

Imagine secure software for cybercrime prevention, equipment with real-time feedback for weightlifters, a sound-recognition device for homeowners with hearing loss, or portable technology that brews Brazilian coffee and hot beverages on the go.

These are some of the jumpstart ventures at Saunders Summer Startup, a small-business launchpad at Rochester Institute of Technology where young innovators with bright ideas form interdisciplinary teams to start real companies. The 10-week crash course is sponsored by Saunders College of Business and the Albert J. Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The student entrepreneurs will unveil their innovative ideas during investor night, which is open to the public from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12, at RIT’s Student Innovation Hall.

During the summer program, each of the eight startups below is offered a stipend, working space at the Simone Center, and receives support from RIT faculty, assigned mentors and community business leaders.

  • CASCADES: Acronym for Cyber Attack Scenario and Network Defense Simulator that streamlines the process of preventing cybercrime
  • Happy2c: A program to help people learn a new language from teachers and native speakers at a lower cost and at their own pace using a smartphone, tablet or computer
  • Hz Innovations: A sound recognition system to aid those with hearing loss that notifies the owner of a sound (doorbell, a child’s cry, alarm) through their software application on their smartphone, wearable device or laptop
  • LiftForce: Smart fitness sensor technology for gyms to provide weightlifters with real-time feedback that they can track, store and communicate to other lifters
  • Myspiderweb.com: A simplified tool for businesses to create and manage their social media content across multiple social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • SpynAlign: A postural control device for stroke patient rehabilitation that works by placing a smartphone on a specially designed vest worn by the patient that signals and alerts them when they need to align and correct their posture
  • UNA: A sustainable, smart and portable coffee maker that will allow users to brew their own coffee or tea on-the-go without any external power supply—complete with a coffee pod that delivers high quality Brazilian coffee beans
  • Wyvrn: The next generation of PawPrints, RIT’s website platform for students to create petitions for change; the education technology company is expanding their services to campuses across the U.S. to revolutionize the way student governments are run.

“Summer Startup is the most intensive entrepreneurial experience that we offer at RIT,” said Richard DeMartino, 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.”