Design Thinking guest speaker

Hi, My name is Christine Rice and I am a rising Junior at the University at Albany. I am so grateful to have had the pleasure of hearing from Dhairya Pujara through the Blackstone LaunchPad/ Albany Entrepreneurs United event. As the Vice President of the club, he gave me such inspiration about creating a business that really answers the problems in the community from the perspective of those who are affected by it. Moving forward from it, I really learned the importance of getting various perspectives when one is looking for creative solutions.
Design Thinking really helped me incorporate many creative solutions to varying problems. As the speaker said, you need to make sure that the population that we are solving the problem for has a way for using the product. He even gave a great example of how he made water accessible for an area in Africa. However, the local culture has a tradition that people would walk to the water source and that’s where they would have conversations. Thus, there was no use for the water system he had put in because it was not created in a way that would benefit the community. In this case, the man thought of a solution but did not think of the correct one for the situation. This was one example of how design thinking can successfully help someone create impact and avoid mistakes in business management, I will carry this newly-gained knowledge with me forward in my career. 

Startup Weekend LA Recap

Startup UCLA - sarah and kevin.png

This past weekend, myself and two other interns had the pleasure of attending the Blackstone Startup Weekend Powered by Techstars at UCLA, California. We had the opportunity to learn what goes into a startup, have one-on-ones with extremely knowledgable mentors, and gain insight from several speakers. They taught us the steps that go into pitching an idea and how to present our business models.

            We were mentored by Darwyn Metzger, a former star of America Now, Emmy-winning journalist, and the founder and CEO of Phantom, a digital marketing and social media strategy firm. Darwyn not only gave us valuable insight into our own business idea but insight into the entire marketing industry, some of his experiences, and his opinion on a few trends in the stock market right now. He was apart of building up some of the most famous viners images and then transitioning them to stay relevant after vine shut down. Darwyn emphasized the need to stay relevant in your market, no matter how popular the service or product may be at any given time. He also highlighted the importance of entering ‘blue seas’ and not red. It is much easier to create a new market space than to compete with companies already there. Talking to Darwyn, among other mentors, was personally my favorite aspect of the weekend.

            Additionally, I had the opportunity to be one-on-two critiqued on my pitch. I had never pitched an idea in a setting like this before, making it extremely interesting to get instant feedback on some of my ideas. Two of the mentors listened to the pitch my team and I had developed and helped refine it for the final presentation. They provided a general model for creating a pitch which I look forward to using again in the future. Most of the advice they provided can be used for future endeavors.

            Traveling to California and participating in the Blackstone Startup Weekend was an amazing experience. I learned so much in such a short time span and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity. I am looking forward to sharing my new insight with the UAlbany campus.

-Sarah Bowen


Diego Mendoza-Moyers , from the Times Union Newspaper, wrote a wonderful article about our annual Innovation Competition which was on April 5th.

“Have you ever wondered if light can transport information? Or, if you're into beauty products, how you might find false eyelashes that last longer than a few uses? If you're a student, you might want a marketplace to buy and sell furniture, textbooks or other items you want to get rid of at the end of the semester.

Those are just some of the ideas students presented at the University at Albany's fourth annual Blackstone Launchpad Innovation Competition, a "Shark Tank" style business pitch competition that saw undergraduate and graduate students lay out their business plan in front of around a dozen judges.”

This excerpt is taken from Times Union, click here to see original article.

April Meerson Wins The 2019 Innovation Competition!

April Meerson Wins The 2019 Innovation Competition!

On April 5th, Blackstone Launchpad Held our annual Innovation Competition where two rounds of “Shark Tank” styled business pitches by 22 teams of students were judged by around a dozen judges. In this competition, students participating were competing for $7,500 in cash and prizes.  

Coming out on top of the competition was April Meerson and her online marketplace for students called “StudentsSellShit”. Meerson ended up wining $3,000 dollars for her business. The concept behind the name is in because in Meerson’s words “We wanted to be different…We’re marketing our product to college students. They don’t care if there’s profanity in the name”. 

Home Inside A Package, Moussa Paye's (UAlbany Allum) Success Story!

Home Inside A Package, Moussa Paye's (UAlbany Allum) Success Story!

Moussa Paye (studied Management and Marketing, Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services at UAlbany from 2015-2017) founded Home Inside a Package (HIP) in August 2018. HIP is a company that does a “care-package” delivery service for college students which addresses parental concerns of convenience and access to gender-specific food, nutrition, and hygiene products.

Blackstone LaunchPad at UAlbany Hosts Their 2nd Annual "Can You Pitch?" Event

UAlbany’s Blackstone LaunchPad will be hosting the second annual “Can You Pitch?” contest. Students stop by the table and pull a prop from a bag, they are then given 30 seconds to give an improvised prop-based pitch. Each week following the “Can You Pitch?” event, videos will be posted on the UAlbany Blackstone LaunchPad instagram, along with questions that are based on the chosen videos.

 At the end of the week, one winner will be chosen among all of those who have submitted answers to the posted questions. The prizes include Amazon gift cards, Starbucks gift cards, Blackstone LaunchPad gear, school spirit bead necklaces, and candy.

 Last year, UAlbany Blackstone LaunchPad won the Global Orientation Competition competing against 30 other universities. UAlbany Blackstone LaunchPad used the “Can You Pitch?” event to register more than 1,400 students.

 Almost 9 percent of UAlbany’s student body registered to join Blackstone LaunchPad’s network. That is the highest percentage of any of the program’s 30 university partners, including four other major university campuses in New York State – Cornell University, New York University, Syracuse University, and the University at Buffalo.

Blackstone LaunchPad Innovation Competition "Times Union" Article

Blackstone LaunchPad Innovation Competition "Times Union" Article

Standing in front of a row of judges at the University at Albany, Steven Williamson began his pitch: an app-based subscription service for exotic cars.

A wealthy car enthusiast in New York City may want the enjoyment and status of driving a fancy car without the necessary upkeep and parking, Williamson said. Using his app, they could select a car from a variety of upscale vehicles and a time frame they wanted to use it for. Williamson's company, Enthusiast Connection, would drop the car off at their home.

The company would also handle maintenance and storage, and users would pay a monthly membership fee of $12,000.

"The exotic car market is growing," Williamson, a senior, said. "People are more interested in experience, not ownership."

After the pitch, he took questions from judges, who asked how Williamson would raise the capital to buy cars, why he wants to launch the app in New York City and how he plans to prevent users from abusing the system and requesting a new car every day.

Pitch Please Event 2018

Blackstone LaunchPad at SUNY Albany hosted an innovation pitch and networking event on Tuesday, February 13th. Numerous established companies and ventures came out to hear student groups pitch their innovative ideas. Students were able to receive feedback from different professionals in various fields such as Jerry Golub, the Vice Chairman of Price Chopper, Gary Goldstein, the Director of EmblemHealth Dental Program, and David Siegfeld, Partner at Ganz Wolkenbreit & Seigfeld LLC. Each student group was given five minutes to deliver their pitches and an additional five minutes were granted for Q&A afterwards. 

Once all the student groups presented and received their feedback, students and professionals were able to network and connect for about an hour before the evening was brought to a close. Blackstone Launchpad at SUNY Albany has had success in the past with similar events that they’ve hosted and have a innovation competition event coming up in April.

We want to thank all of the student groups and the professional mentors that took time to come out and participate. 

Mentors: Stephen Hartmann, David Siegfeld, Dan Finkle, Neil Packer, Jerry Golub, and Gary Goldstein.

Student Groups: Classmates, MASH Co., NutMeg's PB, RiboDynamics, Sweat-Teach, Verified Lifeguards, Campus Pro, Toasty Naturals, and Polis.

Jamal Rasoully, UAlbany Alum and Creator of Spin Sauce

Rasoully integrated what he learned at the University at Albany and Albany Launchpad to create his own product and brand, Spin Sauce. Once he graduated, he wanted to partner up with university auxiliary services and be able to sell his sauce through different venues on campus. What resulted was something much better, the Halal Shack. Tara Fitzpatrick, writer for Food Management, wrote an incredible article on Rasoully and his success. Click here to read more. 

The MASH Card wins Second Annual Blackstone LaunchPad Business Plan Competition

The MASH Card wins Second Annual Blackstone LaunchPad Business Plan Competition

The Mash Card, a student founded and run company, wins the second annual Business Plan Competition hosted by Blackstone Launchpad at UAlbany. M.A.S.H (Make All Students Happy) is a startup company with their mission statement written right into the company name. They're doing big things on campus and they're planning to expand outward to other college communities. Keep your eyes out for them!

The Success of AMI (Advanced Modular Instruments)

The Success of AMI (Advanced Modular Instruments)

Blackstone Launchpad hosts an annual Business Plan Competition that displays some of the innovative ideas that students have to offer as they pursue a path in entrepreneurship. Learn more about our First Annual Business Plan Competition winner, Tony Hoang, and where he is now and how far he has taken his company since this Spring 2016 win.   

Troy Innovation Garage, Spring Into Health and Wellness Fair

          25+ outstanding businesses! Sample delicious food and drink! Healing Touch, Shiatsu, physical therapy, and massage practitioners available for mini-sessions! Learn about nutrition trends; essential oils for the home; meditation; holistic pharmacy; Troy food tours! Bring home air cleaning plants! Meet farmers growing organic produce and free-range meats! And lots more to learn about and enjoy! No cost parking across from the event in the Uncle Sam Garage 5PM on. Open to the public! See you there! Sponsored by Grow Your Seasons—Unique Marketing for Your Food Venture

For More Information Click Here

Business Start-Up Competition 2017

Business Start-Up Competition 2017

Last year over 60 student teams entered from many different majors. The pitches generated a lot of excitement and interest from the university, community, businesses, judges, etc. Participating students learned a great deal from how to make a pitch in minutes to handling a Shark Tank environment with questioning judges’. The counsel and coaching through the whole process was invaluable.