High Schoolers Get Down to Business   

Teams pitched their product ideas to a panel of business professionals at the University last Wednesday.

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 6, 2018) – Local high school students competed for the Capital Region’s first Startup High School New York, an event designed to cultivate teen entrepreneurship in the area.

The 11 teams, comprising two to three students, presented one-minute video advertisements of their product ideas to a panel of business professionals in the University's Campus Center last Wednesday evening.

Shaker High seniors Meghan Desmond and Rachel Hayes, from Shaker High School, won the competition for their idea of an app and a website that would help facilitate special education classes through interactive QR codes. Other participating schools included: Voorheesville, Guilderland, Averill Park, P-TECH and Emma Willard.

The program, organized by the UAlbany Innovation Center, Innovate 518 and Guilderland High School, was the brainchild of Arnav Kannan, a senior at GHS. Kannan said he wanted to create an opportunity for local high school students to acquire the skills necessary to become a successful entrepreneur.

“The Albany area is filled with so many smart kids, it felt only right that they have an outlet to express their creativity,” Kannan said. “This event is almost like an incubator: these students have a network of amazing local entrepreneurs, as well as other students who have a similar burning passion for entrepreneurship.”


2018 Winners: Rachel Hayes and Meghan Desmond of Shaker High School.

He said he was able to put his idea into action with the help of Joan McGrath, one of his teachers at GHS, and from mentor Robert Manasier, UAlbany’s entrepreneur-in-residence and ventures manager.

“Robert brought the entrepreneur’s perspective, Joan brought the educator’s and I brought the student’s,” said Kannan, who said he plans to host more events like Startup High School New York in the future. “All of us have skills that work very well together.”

Manasier, who is also the chief executive officer at In Focus Brands, said the goal of Startup High School New York is to use experiential learning to give students a head start in developing an entrepreneurial mindset.

“The earlier we can embed students in an entrepreneurial ecosystem, the better life skills and experiences they’ll have,” he said. “This event showcases that the [Capital Region] area is rich; you don’t have to look elsewhere to get an education” and become an entrepreneur.

Manasier said local entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship educators from throughout the region have mentored the students throughout the process, from developing their pitches to producing the videos.

Event Sponsors

• Innovate 518
• Jahnel Group
• 4Cite Marketing
• Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C.
• KeyBank
• Pioneer Bank
• Beef Jerky Outlet
• Troy Web Consulting

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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.