An app that rewards working out with cryptocurrency. A nonprofit encouraging college students to become agents of change in local campaigns. Chocolate-covered chickpeas.

These were just a few of the ideas presented at the Southern Tier regional of the New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC) on Saturday at the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator. Eight teams advanced to the state level in Albany, where they’ll compete to win prizes: $20,000 for the overall winner and $10,000 for the first-place spot in each category.

Twelve teams from BU and Cornell University competed in five categories: advanced technology, social entrepreneurship/nonprofit, products, services and information technology/software. Business plans were judged by a panel that included local entrepreneurs and industry experts. The first-place team in each area received $100.

Starting off the competition was Generation Vote, a nonpartisan organization that works to facilitate relationship between young people and the political process. Founded in 2017 by Binghamton University students Brianna Cea and Garrett Shor, GenVote employs a five-step model that culminates in young people receiving a seat at the proverbial table.

Cea said she drew inspiration for the start-up as a freshman unsatisfied with the reach of campus political organizations.
“In each of these organizations, I felt as if the way we engaged youth and local politics in particular, was outdated and very one-sided,” Cea said. “I did not feel like my voice was effectively being heard.”

GenVote’s model consists of the formation of a GenVote team, opinion-based research conducted by students, building a youth platform and crafting a narrative which speaks to relevant issues and working with local candidates who are willing to incorporate the youth platform into their issue profile. The founders say they’ve already begun to see results.

“Our prototype team at U-Albany, in less than two weeks, has collected over 700 surveys from students for their first student opinion research initiative, and they’ve registered for their coalition over 500 students to vote,” Cea said. “They are leading the way for getting young people involved in politics at their campuses.”

Like GenVote, Antithesis, a start-up developed by Cornell Ph.D student Jason Goodman, aims to challenge the status quo. During his presentation on Saturday, Goodman handed out chocolate-covered chickpeas, which he said are nutrient-dense.

“We want people to eat better across the country,” Goodman said. “But they’re not going to do that unless the food tastes good.”

Goodman, who has a background in microbiology, launched the company’s first product line, called Garbanzo, last year. The start-up’s goal is to make food that’s packed with nutrients like protein and fiber, without sacrificing taste. After selling out his online inventory, Goodman hopes to advance in the statewide business plan competition and put any winnings

winnings toward product improvements, marketing and further research and development.

Below is a full list of winners from the Southern Tier regional. Each team will compete on Friday, April 27 at the New York State Business Plan Competition.

Advanced Tech

1st place – PUPP

Social/Non-Profit

1st place – GenVote

2nd place – Spect

Products

1st place – Antithesis

2nd place – MicroBELLA Cosmetics

Services

1st place – Infiniti Greens  

IT/Software

1st place – Vitablock

2nd place – Hush U

By Camila Araujo ’19