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Drive Forward, Drive Happy

UAlbany students and the three principals at AutoX, are entrepreneurs building their auto marketing company with the help of Innovate 518. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 3, 2017) — Even before graduating, many of the MBA students at UAlbany use the skills they’re learning to become entrepreneurs. In conjunction with Innovate 518, a program providing support and infrastructure for fresh ideas, game-changing businesses can get their start right on campus.

Among these businesses is AutoX.

AutoX is an online platform, focused on car dealerships, that tackles sales, marketing and data solutions. Its aim is to make car purchases less complicated and more efficient through a four-step process: find a car, choose financing, get protected and drive happy.

The project, now in a pilot phase focused on developing funding, all began with three UAlbany MBA students who graduated in 2016: Richard Truby, Chris Young and Matthew Marsett.

“AutoX started as an idea when Richard entered the MBA program, and it was centered on making dealers more profitable in the new vehicle sales channel,” said Robert Manasier, the entrepreneur in residence and new ventures manager at UAlbany. “Richard grew up in the industry at the intersection of sales and financing, and subsequently worked on the finance side at a large Capital Region credit union.”

The three students became friends after meeting in the MBA program, bonding over their similar interests and passions. Once a common goal was found, Innovate 518 gave them the helping hand they needed.

“We were looking for support to help commercialize AutoX,” said Truby, who serves as the company’s CEO. “One of the professors in the weekend program suggested looking into what Innovate 518 could do to help move us forward.”

While Truby, who graduated with his MBA in Business Development, spent his weekends at UAlbany developing AutoX, the rest of his time was spent at his full-time job and at home with his wife and two young children. He praises the program’s flexible schedule for allowing him to work on AutoX — what he calls his “fantasyland” — while still having the time to support his family.

UAlbany serves as a lead partner of Innovate 518, helping further its mission to mentor and assist startup companies. Through the resources it provided and its strategic company development process, Truby and his team were able to bring AutoX to life in the Capital Region.

“AutoX has performed dealer outreach and consumer interviews to determine viability for the startup,” said Truby. “The next step for AutoX is to develop our solution and move into funding for scale.”

AutoX received Innovation Funding earlier this month, making Truby all the more grateful for the opportunities and support he’s received at UAlbany. When asked about advice for current and future MBA students, he said, “Start the commercialization process early and get as much support as you can early on in the process. Figure out as soon as possible if your idea has traction and be prepared to pivot or let go of an idea that doesn't have support.”

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.