Syracuse University teams win first, second and third prizes in NYBPC

Congratulations to three Syracuse LaunchPad teams for winning top honors in the New York Business Plan Competition. Happy Loose Leaf Tea, founded by Noah Mechnig-Giordano, captured first place and $2,500 in the Food and & Agtech sector.  Illumenar, co-founded by Justin Monaco and Bruno Gonzalez-Hauger, won second place and $1,000 in the Health & Wellbeing sector. Sus Bots, founded by Amanda Smith, won third place in the Media, Art & Entertainment sector. Mechnig-Giordano moves onto the grand prize final round on April 27 and a chance at the $15,000 top prize sponsored by the Upstate Capital Association of New York.

This year, only the first place teams from each track will compete for the Grand Prize Award as part of Upstate Capital’s event, Venture NY, held this week in Syracuse. The Grand Prize winner will receive $15,000 and ongoing mentorship to advance their student-led venture.

Each of the ten economic development regions across NYS sent 12 teams to the semi-finals and the top three teams from each track were selected by judges from the 120 ventures who made it to round two.

Teams competed in one of six industry tracks: Food & AgTech, Health & Wellbeing, Products & Hardware, Safety, Power & Mobility, Media, Art & Entertainment and Software & Services. 

The results of round two are below.


Track judges: Rich Honen (Phillips Lytle), Maureen Ballatori (29 Design Studio) and Nick Querques (SUNY Research Foundation) 

  • 1st Place:  Happy Loose Leaf Tea, Syracuse University
  • 2nd Place: Veggie Bites, SUNY College at Geneseo
  • 3rd Place:  Octo Mix, SUNY New Paltz


Track judges: Deborah Novick (Westchester County), Dhairya Pujara (Ycenter), Stuart Angert (Independent Health Foundation) and Anthony Magnano (KeyBank Healthcare). 

  • 1st Place:  Bio- Spire, University of Rochester
  • 2nd Place:  Illumenar, Syracuse University
  • 3rd Place:  Pawket Vet, Siena College


Track judges: Claus Kinder (TechCXO), Jay Katz (Launch NY), and Juweria Dahir (Entrepreneurship for All)

  • 1st Place:  Open Beats, University at Buffalo
  • 2nd Place: SWIPS, Rochester Institute of Technology
  • 3rd Place:  Sus Bots, Syracuse University


Track judges: Norm Schwartz, Pia Sawhney (Armory Square Ventures), and Samoria Zurlo (SEFCU)

  • 1st Place:  Photonect, University of Rochester
  • 2nd Place:  Spinovations, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai


Track judges: Shola Ashiru (New Energy Fund II), Elizabeth Callahan (Buffalo Manufacturing Works) and Allison Ret (Ret Consulting)

  • 1st Place: KLAW Industries, Binghamton University
  • 2nd Place: DomCat Technologies, Binghamton University
  • 3rd Place: LiRevive, Rochester Institute of Technology


Track judges: Peter Rothberg (Reitler Kailas & Rosenblatt), Andrew Reading (Dopkins & Company), and Sonya Tareke (Entrepreneurship for All).

  • 1st Place:  LawnAdmin, Siena College
  • 2nd Place:  Property Gauge, University at Albany
  • 3rd Place:  JDocs, Rochester Institute of Technology

Join NYBPC in Syracuse on April 27 for great networking opportunities, educational panels, and to cheer on the top six teams competing for the Grand Prize.

Register here.