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Halfway Pitch Day & Visits to Schenectady

Halfway Pitch Day & Visits to Schenectady

Week 5 was a big week for the startup teams. On Tuesday, IgniteU brought in advisors and seasoned professionals from all over the Capital Region for the startups’ halfway pitch. This was a chance for the teams to practice how to pitch their companies as well as receive feedback from the judging panel in the startup community. The halfway pitch event was a great success.

After our long and busy Tuesday, the IgniteU staff and the teams went out to relax and watch the local Tri-City ValleyCats game, thanks to our friends at the Rensselaer County IDA. The ValleyCats faced off against the State College Spikes for the first game in their three-game series. They put on a great performance and shut out the Spikes 7-0. This was a great chance for the startups to socialize and, as our Startups In Residence would say, go “Two Buttons Deep.”

On Thursday, we wrapped up the week by taking the startups to Schenectady to visit the NYBizLab and the Electric City Innovation Center (ECIC). The BizLab is both an incubator and accelerator that offers an environment to foster entrepreneurial growth in the heart of Schenectady, NY.


The ECIC, also in downtown Schenectady, is a co-working space where community members can make valuable connections, participate in events, and stretch their dollars in an all-inclusive office environment. Introducing the teams to these local resources is a major piece of what we do at IgniteU: exposing startups to the people and resources that can help them grow their businesses further, even after they finish our program.

Halfway through IU

Halfway through IU

The IgniteU NY summer accelerator program is officially at its halfway point. We started on June 5th and our Demo Day will be on August 2nd. Teams have made major progress to their business models and some have pivoted in a different direction. The nature of startups is based on adapting your purpose and strategy while remaining true to the original mission of a business: solving a problem.

During week 4 of IgniteU, we covered many underlying issues of startup companies, such as pricing strategies, board member expectations, state funding, and customer discovery. We also focused on more essential startup tasks such as developing a mission statement, proper vision for your company, and the importance of monitoring and capturing data.

On June 28th, IgniteU hosted a 1 Million Cups event, where Illuminate-ESI-NY, one of our core startups, pitched their business. Developed by the Kauffman Foundation, 1 Million Cups seeks to get startups connected and engaged into their local community to discover solutions and network over a million cups of coffee.

We capped this past week with trips to Syracuse and Rome to visit other startups in upstate New York. Our first stop was the Syracuse Student Sandbox, an accelerator program similar to IgniteU’s. The Sandbox has developed a number of very successful startups and entrepreneurs. We heard the pitches from two Sandboxteams: Spark Charge and Ravle.

Next we went to Rome to attend the Commercialization Academy Demo Day held by the Griffiss Institute at Mohawk Valley Community College - Rome. By partnering the Air Force Research Lab with private industry and academia, the Griffiss Institute is able to facilitate and grow the technology base of the Upstate New York region. This was demonstrated through the presentations of the 2017 Commercialization Academy teams.

Last week was extremely productive for our teams in terms of development and networking. We collaborated with a great group of entrepreneurs from across New York state and our teams are excited to get back to work after their July 4th break.

Summer 2017 has officially begun!

Summer 2017 has officially begun!

We have kicked off our third year of the IgniteU summer accelerator program! This program is a unique eight-week accelerator for aspiring entrepreneurs. It incorporates aspects of customer discovery and general business development, with a strong emphasis on building relationships. We believe in using every opportunity to meet someone new.

The accelerator program started the week of June 5, 2017 with an orientation at our location in Troy, NY. The teams all hail from different universities in the region.

We covered the basics, which was a refresher for most: we dove into customer discovery, business culture, business communication, and an introduction to the business model canvas. Most of the emphasis was on meeting the lead mentors, participating teams, and IgniteU staff to build initial comradery—already there has been a lot of cross-collaboration between the teams. The lead mentors are experienced entrepreneurs from the local area, using their knowledge and experiences to push the companies in the right direction.

It is great to see different groups of people with different businesses come together and build momentum.

If you want to learn more about IgniteU or this summer’s startups, come to our open house on Tuesday, June 20th on the third floor of the Quackenbush Building in Troy! The event is open to all.

Eventbrite - Open House 2017

This summer, we have chosen four core startups to be members of the 2017 cohort: Guide Products, Inky Technologies, U-Topia, and Illuminate ESI-NY. We also have three Startups in Residence joining us: Our.News, Major Buzz and Two Buttons Deep.