startups

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Instead of painting houses or mowing lawns, a group of college students in Syracuse is spending the summer launching companies.

The Student Sandbox incubator just got underway at the Syracuse Tech Garden. And participation is ballooning.

When the program started four years ago, just five teams took part. This year, there are 34 teams. The Tech Garden had to find overflow space to fit everybody.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

It was his 22-year-old niece that gave Amir Cohen the inspiration to quit his job working in Israel's tech sector and start his own company.

Every time she gets in a taxicab in Israel she has her cell phone in-hand, ready to call her father in case of an emergency.

"This was the original trigger," Cohen recalls. "Letting people feel safer and be safer on their daily routine - when they're going to a party, getting in a taxi, whatever."

The end product: a smartphone app called Guard My Angel that allows users to pre-program a list of emergency contacts. If you feel threatened or are in an accident, an alert is sent out with your location.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

When the first StartFast Venture Accelerator begins this morning in Syracuse, the clock will start ticking for nine startups hoping to turn their big idea into a profit maker.

Modeled off of similar accelerators around the country, the teams have 100 days to soak up as much advice and support as they can. They're also given seed money and workspace.

StartFast is the creation of two local entrepreneurs, Chuck Stormon and Nasir Ali. In return for the investment and admittance into the program, Stormon and Ali get a small stake in the company.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Brian Page and Benjamin Onyejuruwa stood in front of the panel of judges with their hands full of groceries in an attempt to show how much easier their invention - an electronic ID and key programmed into a bracelet - could be.

The duo are roommates and freshman at Clarkson University. They made the trip down to Syracuse University on Friday to pitch QuickWhrist for a chance to win seed money from the university's Emerging Talk program.

Even as a freshman, Onyejuruwa already holds a patent for the technology.

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