Igniting Start-Up Success

ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug. 31, 2016) – The University at Albany is becoming a hub for the next generation of entrepreneurs – just ask the co-founders of Major Buzz, Youni and GivDapps.

The three app-based companies, which came out of UAlbany’s Blackstone LaunchPad, are preparing to launch their innovations following a summer in IgniteU NY’s early start-up accelerator program.

Based in Troy, IgniteU brings together local entrepreneurs from different universities and industries for 6-8 weeks. Its mission is to increase start-up success rates in the region. Through the program, teams are offered a collaborative working environment, investor networking and general business development opportunities.

Major Buzz, Youni and GivDapps represented three of the early accelerator’s four core teams in summer 2016. Here’s more on each:

MajorBuzz (Bradley Nwosu ‘16, Adedotun Oni ‘16, Raheema Robinson ‘16, Justin Lee ‘16, Kishmar Best ‘10): Major Buzz is developing a series of apps that target the college market. The first is Zoombeeto, a food ordering app that connects students with restaurants for late night food. The app is launching in September to students in the Capital District.

Youni Co-Founders

Youni co-founders Jordan DiLapo (left) and Anthony Escamilla at UAlbany's Blackstone Launchpad business plan competition last semester. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

Youni (Anthony Escamilla ‘16, Jake Ruth ‘16, Jordan DiLapo ‘16): Youni is a University-specific social media platform that allows college students to use creative photo-sharing to bolster their campus identity. It highlights top users and organizations by how active they are. Youni was launched last spring at UAlbany and will expand to Cornell, Binghamton and Boston University this fall. Its co-founders placed second in Blackstone LaunchPad’s national “Solve a Campus Challenge” and the program’s University-wide business plan competition last semester.

GivDapps (Adam MacDonald ’16, Luke Beemer ‘15): GivDapps is a non-profit web-based and mobile app. It enables those wishing to make a charitable contribution to target specific individuals in their local community identified by human welfare agencies. The app’s launch will revolve around the holiday “giving season” as almost a third of all donations are given in the month of December.

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

Through Blackstone LaunchPad, UAlbany’s 17,300 students, plus alumni, faculty and staff, are given access to individualized coaching as well as seminars and training sessions related to entrepreneurship. The program offers assistance with business plans, financial analyses, marketing campaigns and investor networking.

Major Buzz, Youni and GivDapps are just three examples of Blackstone’s early success stories.

“Programs like Ignite U and Blackstone have provided us with a great foundation,” said Raheema Robinson of Major Buzz. “We’ve met so many great people who believe in our team and product. They’ve allowed us to be proud of our start-ups and not feel forced to take the conventional route after college. The unlimited support and guidance is something we can’t thank each program enough for.”

For additional information on UAlbany’s Blackstone LaunchPad, visit its official website. You can also contact executive director, Jan Woodcock, directly by email, or visit the program’s location in the University’s Campus Center (adjacent to the Student Association offices).

Read more about IgniteU NY, Major Buzz, Youni and GivDapps in SMARTACUS.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY 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 sciencesbusiness, public health, health sciences, 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.