Winners of ‘Cuse Tank 2020 were:
- First place, $5,000, Bruno Andres Gonzalez Hauger, Ambassadoor Technologies
- Second place, $3,000, Justin Diaz, EcoBamboo Living
- Third place, $1,000, Shawn Gaetano, Solace Vision
- Fourth place, $1,000, Sardorbek Askarov, Aphinity
- Wild Card winner, $500, Benjamin Ford, Jersey Boys Apparel
Ambassadoor Technologies connects small businesses to nano-influencers on Instagram through innovative iOS mobile applications. The company created a business app and an influencer app to streamline the entire influencing process on both ends of a deal. “The most effective type of advertising is word-of-mouth,” said Gonzalez Hauger. “Social media has given this type of advertising the most incredible boost of all time and we are taking advantage of it like never before. Using nano-influencers who are real people with real influence, advertisers can have a more personal connection with their audience than ever before, for not a whole lot of money.”
The company has developed proprietary algorithms to maximize reach and inclusion with a system that is fast, efficient and yields high engagement results. Ambassadoor Technologies has launched and will invest the winnings in marketing and further product development.
Gonzalez Hauger is president of the Syracuse University Entrepreneurship this year.
EcoBamboo Living hopes to solve sustainability challenges through the design and construction of affordable bamboo homes. Working with local real estate and construction experts, Diaz has a goal of building his first bamboo “tiny home” in Syracuse. From there he hopes to build in areas that have been hard hit with natural disasters and areas that are challenged to find affordable housing solutions. “Bamboo is nonpolluting, earthquake and hurricane resistant, fast-growing, durable, sustainable and accessible,” said Diaz. It is a fraction of the cost of lumber and much more renewable in terms of regrowth. “We have a mission to create shelter for families to have a place to call home.”
Solace Vision is a virtual reality (VR) solution that helps people overcome debilitating phobias, anxieties and mental health disorders through the creation of environments based on user experience. “VR therapy research suggests it is a middle-ground between exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy due to the fact that patients can immediately remove the headset if they become uncomfortable, and that VR environments can be highly detailed to stimulate real environments specific to phobias,” said Gaetano. “Solace Vision is a modern solution to helping phobia by providing a software platform with tailored VR environments for phobias and anxieties.”
Gaetano has built the platform and invest the funds in securing a Pico Medical VR headset to test and further develop phobia environments.
Aphinity is a platform that connects users to discover shared interests, particularly for young adults and professionals looking for ways to organize their social interactions and discover new meaningful experiences via an on-line to off-line affinity group platform. “There is a significant gap in the market for platforms that can build a real sense of community and connection through shared interests and goals,” said Askarov. The venture has already built an MVP featuring a news feed that displays nearby communities and events in real time, as the user requests information, and has begun beta-testing.
‘Cuse Tank 2020 judges were:
- Josh Aviv ’15, G’17, founder and CEO of Spark Charge, SU Libraries Advisory Board Member and LaunchPad Entrepreneur in Residence;
- AJ Damiano ’18, co-founder and CEO of PowerSpike;
- Mike Gursha ’10, chairman and CEO of Rookie Road and LaunchPad Entrepreneur in Residence;
- Corey Lieblein ’93, Founder/CEO of CP8 Capital and LaunchPad Entrepreneur in Residence – and Syracuse University parent;
- Kathi Durdon, executive director of the CNY Biotech Accelerator at Upstate Medical University;
- Amy Fazackerley, founder and CEO of Lay-n-Go and SU Libraries Advisory Board Member;
- Victoria Lawson ’20, founder and CEO of Weird & Woke Design;
- James Bason, president and CEO of TruFund Financial Service – and Syracuse University parent;
- Mike Smith ’12 G’13, founder of Scrappy Capital and consultant at Venture Fuel;
- Alec Gillinder ’20 and Quinn King ’20, co-founders of MedUX.
- Claire Howard, LaunchPad Global Fellow
- Patrick Linehan, LaunchPad Global Fellow
- Gabriella Holliman-Lopez, Todd B. Rubin LaunchPad Diversity and Inclusion Scholar
- Ellen Jorgensen, LaunchPad Orange Ambassador
- Phil McKnight, co-founder Promptous and LaunchPad alumnus
Master showrunner was Nick Barba ‘20, independent project management consultant to the LaunchPad, and co-founder of Smarta which recently won first place in the Panasci Business Plan Competition.
The event was hosted by the Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars at SU Libraries. Prize funding came through a gift to SU Libraries from Todd Dagres, co-founder and general partner at Spark Capital.