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Syracuse iSchool students win $5k at Panasci Business Competition

Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) graduate students David Chenell G’12 and Eric Cleckner G’12 brought home $5,000 for their company Grafighters at the 2011 Panasci Business Plan Competition, hosted by the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and overseen by the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship.

“This was our second attempt at Panasci after finishing in fourth place, just outside the money last year,” said Cleckner. “We were not satisfied, so we used that as motivation throughout the past year to focus on development, launch our game, find other sources of funding and ultimately come back to Panasci much more prepared. The work paid off and we were able to get third place and $5,000, which will go entirely into further development of the game.”

Grafighters is an online fighting game that allows users to upload their drawings and battle against the drawing of their friends. The game uses a proprietary design engine called Cornelius that takes the way gamers normally play and revamps the process. Instead of using a controller, Grafighters challenges players to compete using design skills and creativity.

Chenell and Cleckner competed against fifteen other teams comprised of SU students presenting business plans to leaders from the Syracuse area and across the country on April 15. Teams were judged on creativity, innovation, feasibility, comprehensiveness and an oral presentation.

The top five teams competed in the finals on Saturday, April 16 and three of the teams, including Grafighters, were awarded a total of $45,000. Grafighters placed third, after first place winner PiezoTouch, Inc., which is developing a device that enables users to send human touch, wirelessly to another person, and second place winner Rylaxing, LLC., a company manufacturing a booster designed to transform twin bed into a couch or sofa.

“This was one of our most competitive years ever for the Panasci competition, with more plans coming from students from across campus,” says Thomas Kruczek, executive director of the Falcone Center. “The top three plans were outstanding, very creative business ideas that were well thought out and researched.”

The Panasci Business Plan Competition is a campus-wide student business plan competition, hosted by the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship in the Whitman School of Management, and made possible by long-time Whitman School supporter, the late Henry A. Panasci, founder of Fay’s Drugs. Any team of students from any school or college at Syracuse University can enter the competition.

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