iVentures10

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iVENTURES10 partners with Illinois Launch!

Monday, February 1st, 2010

For Immediate Release

Helping Illinois entrepreneurs realize their dreams – one brilliant idea at a time.

January 29, 2010 Champaign-Urbana

What do the founders of Delta Airlines, You Tube, BET, and The Pampered Chef have in common?  They all went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  In an effort to continue in the long line of successful businesses coming out of the University of Illinois, the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership housed in the College of Business at Illinois is starting a new program called Illinois Launch.

Last year, two young brothers donated the money needed to get this program up and running.  Al and Alex Goldstein founded CashNetUSA and sold it for $265M in 2006.  They decided to not only give back to the university, but also to help fellow entrepreneurs realize the same success.  Using their generous donation, the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership has developed a new venture pipeline project to link existing campus efforts and initiatives and to create new opportunities for students to receive mentoring, funding, and support as they launch new ventures.

In this large, decentralized institution, a variety of activities and strategies are needed to address students with different goals and at different stages of entrepreneurial interest and start-up development.  Some students need to test the feasibility of a new idea or create a prototype; others are ready to write a business plan or seek funding.  However, it can become a challenge to navigate the range of opportunities.

The goal of Illinois Launch is to create an individualized program designed to take student entrepreneurs from the idea stage of a business to a new venture ready to launch and pitch to investors. This is a campus-wide effort which seeks to link and exploit synergies between existing programs, identify gaps and needs, and promote an awareness and understanding of this pipeline of opportunities.  The primary partners in Launch are the Technology Entrepreneur Center (TEC), IllinoisVENTURES, the Illinois Entrepreneurship Network (IEN), and EnterpriseWorks.

The program will assign a mentor to each student venture once the Launch team has assessed the application.  The team will also suggest coursework, workshops, competitions, and funding streams that will work best for the venture or business idea.  New ventures may seek space in EnterpriseWorks, apply for funding, attend workshops and meet successful entrepreneurs and investors.  Each year, Launch will host a Demo Day for student start-ups in Chicago.  Additionally, in coordination with Launch, the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership is developing Illinois Angels, a group of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders interested in investing in young companies.  Launch ventures will have an opportunity to pitch to the Illinois Angels starting this Fall.

For more information or to apply, visit www.ael.illinois.edu or contact:

Amara Andrews, JD

Assistant Director, Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership

University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, College of Business

270 Wohlers Hall, 1206 S. Sixth Street

Champaign, Illinois 61820

Phone:  217-244-9425, Direct:  217-333-0656, Fax:      217-244-3118

Email: amara@illinois.edu

eMotion

Monday, June 29th, 2009

This summer the iVentures 10 program is lucky to have four talented teams with four very different and promising ideas.  This week we would like to share with you a little information about eMotion, founded by Avelo Roy and Ed Suda, one of our exciting teams for the summer.  eMotion is focused on creating a secure social networking site for tweens (girls between 8-14).  This idea revolves around the creation of a BFF<3Necklace, a heart shaped necklace that allows tweens to communicate with friends through a system of lights and vibrations.  Friends can sync necklaces with one another and send coded messages.  Users can also communicate on a website, which allows them to create their own faceplates and messages as well as chat with each other.  This is a unique way for tweens to be able to use social networking sites but in a safe monitored environment.  In addition, tweens can only communicate with friends who have synced their necklaces face to face, with eliminates any safety and privacy concerns.  eMotion has already  won many regional and national business plan competitions over the past few years which resulted in media attention from CNN Money, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle and Fresno Bee.  They are looking to develop their product even further this summer through iV10.

Below are some excerpts from an interview with Avelo Roy:

How did you hear about iVentures10

We won entrance into the program by winning the first place at the Northwestern University Entrepreneur Idol

What are you looking to get out of iVentures 10?

Investment in terms of money, connections and guidance

Describe your group dynamic

A devoted and diverse team of 4 fulltime people guided by a distinguished board of 7 advisors.

What are your goals after the 10 weeks in the program are over?

Go for production , Strengthen our distribution channel, Raise more money , Assemble sales force, Start implementing marketing strategy

What are you most looking forward to about this summer?

Building value for the company good enough to attract investment and key people who would help make this company a success story

Check out some articles about eMotion at the following links:

http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2009/smallbusiness/0904/gallery.startup_showdown_2009.smb/7.html

http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2008/nov/24/business/chi-mon-minding-young-entreprenenov24

http://www.thebusinessmakers.com/episodes/shows/2009/april-2009/episode-202/2009-rice-alliance-business-plan-competition.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lola-olley/despite-the-economy-colle_b_206555.html

More updates on eMotion to follow all summer long!

Merge.FM Interview

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

It’s the second week of iV10 and the teams have been hard at work.  After sitting in on a meeting with the teams on Monday, it’s apparent the enthusiasm and excitement the members have for their ideas and I can’t wait to see their progress as the summer goes on.  It was also fun to see the members of the teams, along with Amit and Rob, brainstorm, and bounce ideas off of each other.  One of the companies I was most impressed by was SongAlive, which hopes to develop a program to make collaborating on music easier.  I had a chance to chat with co-founder Adam Steele, a graduate student in aerospace engineering, to ask him some questions about the company and what he hopes to gain from this summer.

How did you hear about iVentures10

Through Dr. Brian Lilly from the Technology Entrepreneur Center

What drew you to the program?

Participating in the Cozad New Venture Competition at the University of Illinois

Explain your company’s idea

SongAlive has developed a new platform to unlock the potential of massive collaboration on music and audio.

What are you looking to get out of iVentures 10?

Build relationships with investors, obtain advice and learn from the experience of the partners, use seed funding to help our company grow, and have the most fun summer yet.

Where did your idea come from?

The idea came from trying to work on music over long distances with my old band.

What are your goals after the 10 weeks in the program are over?

Build our product so we can begin initial customer testing.

What are you most looking forward to about this summer?

Just the excitement of starting our first company.

What kind of experiences have you had in the past that will help you begin your company?

Held leadership positions in student organizations, run a research lab, minored in engineering leadership, took entrepreneurship courses, read about startups and technology, go to lectures by entrepreneurs.

Look for more about Adam and SongAlive as they continue to work on their product!  Also, please visit songalive.com if you are interesting in becoming a beta tester for the site.

Summer Lecture Series Kickoff with Alan Singleton

Monday, June 15th, 2009

The iVentures 10 summer lecture series kicked off this morning with Alan Singleton from Single Law Firm, P.C.  Alan discussed with the teams the complexities of incorporation and intellectual property law.  Alan specializes in corporate formation and is an active part of the Champaign Urbana tech community.  He is known as a strong advocate for technology transfer and early stage companies in Illinois.  You can visit Alan’s website at http://singletonlawfirm.com/.   The teams had a great time learning and interacting with Alan.  They are also looking forward to the second lecture of the summer long series with Glenn Winokur, managing Director of Emerson Street Partners.

Fashion Latte: Your Daily Cup of Fashion

Monday, June 15th, 2009

iVenture10’s second summer featured many talented teams who spent 10 weeks developing their ideas while having a good time in the process.  We want to keep you updated on how the companies are doing now as well as any additional projects our alums are working on.  In addition, our alums are looking forward to sharing their own memories of their iV10 summer with you.  I was fortunate enough to speak with Sanketh Shetty, co-founder of Fashion Latte about his experiences in the program.

For those who don’t know, Fashion Latte is an online apparel search engine that uses computer vision and machine learning technology to organize catalogs from top online retailers.  On the website, you can shop by color, pattern, and specific aspect of style.  These features allow you to find items you want quickly and items that are visually similar.

Below are some excerpts from my interview with Sanketh:

What are you up to now?  Are you still with your company or have you moved onto something different?

My team and I are still working on the company while simultaneously pursuing our PhDs.

If you’re still with your company, describe what happened after the program ended?  How did you get your funding, how has it evolved since you left iVentures10?

We slowed down after the demo day last year. Our responsibilities as researchers and entrepreneurs was taxing. We focused on new redesigning our website and reworking our business plan. We worked with the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership and submitted new business plans to a couple of competitions and won at one of them. We also received a $5000 IECN grant and have invested the money from the winning and this grant towards hiring a UI and web design expert.

What was the most challenging part of the summer?

Our team probably epitomizes what iV10 is about. We did not have a line of code written on the first day. All we had is an idea and a semblance of a business plan. Going from that idea and actually implementing a complicated system in 10 weeks was exciting. The challenge was really scaling the idea appropriately to something that could be achieved in 10 weeks. We were not completely at home when it came to web technologies and were a little nervous about how we would showcase our final product.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I learned from the other teams during the course of the summer. I personally enjoyed working with the guys from Next Big Sound and Cisco and Anton from Stanford. They are bright young people and were very helpful with some of the coding issues we had.

Describe any mentoring or guidance you received during your summer in Champaign.

Amit was always on our case and did a good job of keeping everyone motivated. We are three ECE grads so it helped to have him around to guide us with our web technology choices. It was really cool that they brought people over to look at what we had done. It was always fun to show off the visual search technology. It was also nice to have Rob drop in and give us his assessment of where we were. He has a pleasant and calm way of interacting with us which we found very comforting especially in the periods we had doubts about things working.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I learned from the other teams during the course of the summer. I personally enjoyed working with the guys from Next Big Sound and Cisco and Anton from Stanford. They are bright young people and were very helpful with some of the coding issues we had.

Do you feel your iVentures10 experience has helped you get a job or in interviews?

I haven’t interviewed anywhere yet. And I hope I don’t have to.

Please visit fashionlatte.com for more information and to check out their amazing site!

Stay tuned for more alum interviews and interviews from the newest crop of iVentures10 teams.  The program just kicked off today for the summer so there will be plenty of updates!

Welcome to iVentures 2009!

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Hi everyone! My name is Jennifer McConnell and I will be joining the iVentures10 blog team for the upcoming summer. I’ll be working with the iVentures10 teams in the office based out of Champaign, Illinois and updating the world on their quest to produce their prototypes and start their own companies in just 10 weeks. It should be an interesting and exciting journey so be sure to check back often to get the latest scoop on what’s new. Also, become of fan of iVentures10 at http://www.facebook.com/pages/iVentures10/91130890727?ref=share and follow us on Twitter (iventures10).  The teams come into the office Monday so look out for team profiles and news about bootcamp next week!

Applications Open For Summer ‘09

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

iVENTURES10 has opened up application submission for Summer ‘09. Please click here for more information on applying.