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Elite Entrepreneurs

Tony Hoang (left) and Nancy Min are attending the "Blackstone LaunchPad Techstars Training Camp" in New York City next week. (Photo by Hilary Knox)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 13, 2017) – One company is using weather prediction to improve solar energy production, the other is making research labs more efficient – both will be amongst the country’s top collegiate entrepreneurs next week.

UAlbany’s Blackstone LaunchPad program has selected two of its most successful startups to attend the “Blackstone LaunchPad Techstars Training Camp” on Tuesday and Wednesday in New York City.

The startups, ecoLong LLC and Advanced Modular Instruments (AMI), are sending their company founders, Nancy Min and Tony Hoang, to the training camp where they will have access to various mentorship and networking opportunities.

They’ll also be competing for a chance to pitch their startup to investors at the event. Seven teams will be selected by a panel of judges on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. Then, through an audience vote, the top three pitches will win prize money during the final round on Wednesday night.

"Techstars is a premier accelerator. Our startups will benefit from attending this training camp,” said Jan Woodcock, UAlbany Blackstone LaunchPad director. “Nancy and Tony continue to pivot their business models. ecoLong offers a platform to drive solar productivity, while Advanced Modular Instruments is improving research labs. Both are on the bleeding edge.”

Tech Stars logo.

Blackstone LaunchPad's partnership with Techstars offers a first of its kind program for collegiate entrepreneurs.

Techstars is a global ecosystem that helps entrepreneurs build their businesses. Through its network, startup founders and their teams are able to connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, investors, community leaders and corporate partners who will help their team grow.

The Techstars network includes more than 1,000 companies, which collectively, have raised more than $3.1 billion.

You can learn more about the Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars partnership here.

Making Unpredictable Meteorology Predictable:

Nancy Min left a full-time position at Deloitte Consulting to launch her startup ecoLong LLC.

Over the last two years, Min and the ecoLong team have devoted their careers to developing environmental and renewable energy products. Included is “the eSIR,” a smart sensor system that provides necessary information for more accurate weather and solar radiation forecasting and air quality monitoring.

Transitioning from a corporate position to a startup was a risk – but Min believes in ecoLong’s potential to change the world and improve people’s lives. Deloitte has also been supportive of her decision, offering a part-time consulting job so Min could keep her health benefits.

“I never thought I would start my own company and leave my positon at Deloitte,” Min said. “But, sometimes life leads you in unexpected directions. I am passionate about ecoLong and believe in our products’ ability to make a sustainable impact on weather forecasting.”

Min is a native of the Capital District. Growing up, she was connected to UAlbany through her father Qilong Min, a professor in the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC). She also remained local, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).

ecoLong is located on UAlbany’s Uptown Campus and works closely with Innovate 518, ASRC and the University’s New York State Mesonet, a network of 125 advanced weather detection stations across New York State.

You can watch Min’s Techstars’ pitch video here.

Prolific Student Inventor:

Tony Hoang, a Ph.D. chemistry student at UAlbany, launched his biotech startup last December with a student-record student six pending utility patents.

Advanced Modular Instruments (AMI) provides fast and efficient research tools to enhance research in biology and chemistry labs. Hoang describes his company as the “internet of things for science,” with many of its tools controllable through a smartphone app, tablet or web-based interface.

UAlbany’s Life Sciences Building has given Hoang, a native of Vietnam, his own lab space where he is continuing to develop AMI’s technologies while finishing his Ph.D. requirements. He plans to graduate in December and give his full attention to the company.

Hoang credits much of his success to UAlbany and the Blackstone LaunchPad program.

“The University has been very supportive of me and my vision for AMI,” said Hoang, a member of The RNA Institute. “By working with Blackstone and several mentors on campus, I’ve been able to broaden my idea into a successful startup venture with four employees. Our team is only continuing to expand and we look forward to pitching on the national stage in New York City next week.”

Watch Hoang’s Techstars’ pitch video here.

Blackstone Launchpad at UAlbany:

In October 2015, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation announced the expansion of its Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurship program to five New York State universities, including UAlbany.

Through the program, the UAlbany community is given access to individualized coaching as well as seminars and training sessions related to building their own business. Interested students can write business plans, complete financial analyses, and design marketing campaigns, while also being teamed up with external mentors and business incubators.

To learn more about the program, visit its official website. You can also contact executive director, Jan Woodcock, directly by email, or visit its location in the University’s Campus Center (adjacent to the Student Association offices).

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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.