The students are back: avoid the parkway and make sure to order lunch for pickup at Chipotle! Joking aside, students are welcomed back with open arms by Binghamton University. The university’s Department of Entrepreneurship & Innovation Partnerships welcomed back those students with fresh Cider Mill doughnuts and cider at their BWelcome Week session.

Students interested in the entrepreneurial side of life were met by multiple Binghamton University graduates who have made a name for themselves through small business ventures in the local ecosystem. These entrepreneurs spoke on their time at Binghamton U, the resources they drew upon and some struggles of small business ownership.

Laura Holmes, Assistant Director of E&IP, kicked off the session by explaining the department and its ability to provide mentorship, connections and direction to the entrepreneurial minds of the college. Located in the ITC building in suite 2100, a 15 minute walk from campus, students are welcome to visit to discuss the resources available.

David Whalen took the floor to speak on his business, Binghamton Hots. A 2005 graduate, David held multiple jobs post-college and even titled himself a bit of a “corporate stiff”. Since early college, however, David had an itch to start his own business. A food-lover himself, he had always been annoyed by Binghamton’s lack of late-night food, critical to the unique eating habits of college students. In 2010 the Binghamton area began its revitalization and David took note. “It was the perfect time to get in at the ground floor,” said David. “Property prices were reasonable and I saw an opportunity,” Fast forward to today and Binghamton Hots is highly successful and on the path to adding its first Franchised Hots locations.

Adam Sabol picked up the proverbial mic next, to speak on his company. A 2011 graduate, Adam started down the path of entrepreneurship by expanding student’s palate for local business. He and classmates started their first venture, CommuniKey, which was a plastic card that students could buy for $10 and in-turn receive discounts at 38 local businesses. While working with these businesses, Adam realized a need on their part for a social media presence, which was fast becoming a pivotal marketing tool. In spring 2014 Key Branding Labs was formed. The company focuses on social media management for a plethora of businesses and has seen great growth since with over two dozen businesses accounts actively managed.

Next up to bat was Sung Kim. The 2014 graduate and founder of Chick-N-Bap has seen hard-earned success with his NYC inspired eatery. As a student at Binghamton U, Sung and friends never shook their love for NYC street food, specifically chicken over rice. Upon realizing the vast number of students who originated in the NYC area who were unable to access this childhood staple, Sung headed to the store to do what he saw as step one — make the dish! After selling his cooking to friends, the interest picked up by word of mouth enough so that Sung was serving whole parties his chicken and rice dish. Through hard work and some lucky breaks, he was able to score a spot on campus serving his dish two days a week. After breakout success selling his dishes, his presence expanded steadily to what it is today; a full-fledged location serving multiple dishes 6 days a week at the MarketPlace. Sung hopes to expand to other campuses in the future. 

Lastly, we heard from two recent 2018 graduates who make up 2/3 of PUPP, or Pressure Ulcer Prevention Pad. This invention uses inflatable pads to alternate seating pressure on a wheelchair-bound individual. Painful and potentially life-threatening ulcers can form from prolonged sitting where the seat pressure on an individual’s bottom is not alternated. The members discussed how they recently received funding through the E&IP’s efforts and how the department is a resource to be utilized by students without a doubt. The PUPP team recently went through a National Science Foundation I-Corps course held in the downtown Koffman Southern Tier Incubator which aided in customer discovery of their product. They are actively developing a prototype and look to begin sales in the near future.

The session was concluded by Laura Holmes’ well wishes to the students. Upon leaving, one student was overheard saying “wow, that was actually informative!”


– Cory Kimmell